ON April 25 at 7 am, in an attempt to ensure compliance with the restrictions of the lockdown against meetings and public gatherings, farmers in Punjab found a novel way of protesting. The joined hands with employees’ students and youth organizations of Punjab and protested form their rooftops.
In a statement, Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu (Convenor – Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Punjab) and Sukhdev Singh Kokrikallan (General Secretary – Bharti Kisan Union(Ekta-Ugrahan)) clarified that in 22 districts of Punjab 16 peoples’ organizations participated in this protest in the days of curfew.
A memorandum was sent to chief minister Amrinder Singh through Suresh Kumar, Chief Principal Secretary. Three main demands raised for farmers that keeping in mind social distancing wheat crop must be lifted from their houses, those who are unable to store wheat in their houses must have their crop lifted on a priority – basis and the number of procurement centres should increase to manage a new crop of wheat.
(Farmers protesting on their rooftops in the villages of Sidhwan and Sakheera in district Taran-Taran)
The other demands include an increase in milk rate, extending free medical treatment benefits to people, and providing free ration to needy in the days of COVID-19 lockdown.
The organizations also demanded that private hospitals and laboratories be brought under government control.
The protesters demanded that contractual employees of health and other departments be regularized at the earliest and an insurance cover of 50 lakh rupees be provided to each employee. The need to employ more doctors, nurses and paramedics were also underlined. More funds were asked to be released to battle this corona pandemic.
An important demand that was made, was that a hefty pandemic tax is imposed on big corporates and industrialists and its immediate payment is ensured.
The protesters now await the outcome of their demands.