Chandigarh (IANS): Hundreds of farmers and AAP workers protested on Sunday at the grain market in Mansa town as the Punjab government began a farm debt waiver scheme for a section of marginal, debt-ridden farmers in the state.
The farmers, who held the protest under the banner of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), termed the scheme as a non-starter. They said the Congress, which had promised complete debt waiver for farmers, had gone back on its promise to waive off the debt of cooperative and commercial banks, money-lenders and financial institutions.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh launched the scheme, claiming it will benefit a total of 5.63 lakh farmers in the initial phase. Farmers were issued debt waiver certificates on the occasion.
Farmers in the agrarian state, which ushered in the ‘Green Revolution’ in 1960s to make the country self-sufficient in food grains, are believed to be under a debt of over Rs 90,000 crore. “The loan waiver announced by the state government is all fake. It is peanuts compared the the mammoth debt of farmers. We will not accept this waiver,” BKU farmer Kirpal Singh said.
The Punjab Police and district authorities did not allow the protesting farmers to reach the venue of the loan waiver event. Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Aam Aadmi Party co-president for Punjab Aman Arora started a sit-in protest in Mansa. “This exercise of loan waiver is a complete sham. The farmers been cheated in the name of waiving off their debt. We have cheques of Rs 7, 10, 12 and a few hundred rupees being issued to farmers.