Uneasy calm at Punjab-Haryana borders, SKM forms panel for joint MSP fight : The Tribune India

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Uneasy calm at Punjab-Haryana borders, SKM forms panel for joint MSP fight

Seeks murder case against Khattar, Vij; to observe ‘Black Day’ today

Uneasy calm at Punjab-Haryana borders, SKM forms panel for joint MSP fight

Farm leaders hold a press meet in Chandigarh on Thursday. RAVI KUMAR



Tribune News Service

Ruchika M Khanna

Chandigarh, February 22

A day after a young farmer was killed and several others injured in police action during the farmers’ protest at the Khanauri border, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer unions, has come out in solidarity with the farmers who faced police action. However, it has fallen short of announcing support for the ongoing “Dilli Chalo” stir.

Editorial: Death of a farmer

Though the SKM has decided that it will not join the ongoing protest at Punjab’s borders with Haryana and continue with its own protest programmes, it has announced a six-member committee to hold talks with the breakaway factions — the SKM (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM). The committee members are Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Dr Darshan Pal, Balbir Singh Rajewal, Hannan Mollah, Yudhvir Singh and Raminder Patiala.

Sources said talks for fighting the battle to get the MSP unitedly had already been initiated through Haryana farmer leader Gurnam Singh Charuni of the BKU (Charuni) last night.

Today, SKM leaders also said they were united for a common minimum programme, but if any of its constituent unions wanted to participate in the ongoing stir, it was free to do so. This has likely stemmed from the feedback received by the SKM leaders from leaders of its constituent unions about their cadres pressing them to participate in the protest. Manjit Singh Dhaner of the BKU-Dakaunda (Dhaner faction) later told The Tribune that he had suggested that they could set up their own stage near the border with Haryana.

“An attempt has been made to divide and derail the farmers’ struggle, which will meet stiff opposition from all farmer unions. After all, over 700 farmers have died in farmers’ struggles since 2020,” said SKM leaders, along with leaders of the BKU (Ekta Ugrahan), after a meeting of the national coordination committee of the SKM that met here today. The leaders, including Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Balbir Singh Rajewal, Dr Darshan Pal, Rakesh Tikait and Raminder Singh Patiala, along with leaders from UP, Haryana and West Bengal, announced that they would observe “Black Day” across cities and villages of the country tomorrow against the “repression unleashed on farmers” by the Haryana Police.

“We will burn effigies of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Home Minister Anil Vij and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. We are sure that the Union Home Minister is orchestrating the police action on farmers. These three leaders should resign immediately. We also demand a judicial inquiry into the entire incident, to be monitored by the Supreme Court. The guilty should be asked to pay a compensation of Rs 2 crore to the family of deceased farmer Shubhkaran Singh,” they said.

The SKM (Non-Political) has, however, sought a compensation of Rs 1 crore for the deceased’s kin.

The committee has also demanded that the Punjab Government should register a case of murder against the Haryana Chief Minister and Home Minister. “They (Haryana Police) entered the Punjab territory and fired at our farmers,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal.

Rakesh Tikait said on February 26, farmers across the country would get their tractors on state and national highways, park them on one side, and protest to demand the MSP for all crops, debt waiver for farmers and farm labourers, demand for India walking out of the WTO agreement and fixing the prices of crops in accordance with the formula given in the Swaminathan Commission report. He said they would not disrupt the flow of traffic. The SKM has also announced to hold a mahapanchayat in Delhi on March 14.

The reason why the SKM has not announced its immediate support for the “Dilli Chalo” is because of the breakaway factions earlier rejecting the offer made by it for unity of all farmer unions last year. Besides, the SKM had initially announced its programme to protest in Delhi from February 16. The SKM (Non-Political) and the KMM, however, pre-empted them and announced their “Dilli Chalo” on February 13.

‘Declare protest victim a martyr’

Uneasy calm prevailed at the Khanauri and Shambhu borders on Thursday. Shubhkaran’s post-mortem couldn’t be conducted as farmer leaders want the government to declare him a martyr, give a compensation of Rs 1 crore to his family and a government job to his sister.

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