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Farmers protest in Hry, Punjab

New Delhi: Farmers in Haryana and Punjab have been protesting against three ordinances passed by the Centre. The protests began on Thursday when the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) staged a rally and blocked National Highway 44 near Kurukshetra. The farmers were charged by the Haryana Police for not following Covid-19 prohibitory orders and damage of property.

Farmers expressed their outrage over the passage of these ordinances by the Centre which they called "anti-farmer". They believe that the ordinances will lead to destruction of the peasants and will expose them to the whims of the market forces, said BKU leader Gurnam Singh, as quoted by news agency.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 are the three ordinances that the Centre had passed during the lockdown period.

The farmers are more concerned with the first one - The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020. The ordinance seeks to "provide for barrier-free trade of farmers' produce outside the markets notified under the various state agricultural produce market laws (state APMC Acts). The Ordinance will prevail over state APMC Acts."

Farmers fear that this ordinance will end the Mandi system of selling of agricultural products and will lead to sale of their products below the Minimum Support Price or the MSP.

The ordinance states that farmers are allowed to trade products outside, " the physical premises of market yards run by market committees formed under the state APMC Acts" and such trade "can be conducted in any place of production, collection, and aggregation of farmers' produce including: (i) farm gates, (ii) factory premises, (iii) warehouses, (iv) silos, and (v) cold storages."

As per the news agency, former Haryana chief minister and Congress leader Bhupender Singh Hooda said in a statement, "These ordinances are against the interests of farmers. If the government wants to implement them, then it should ensure that no purchases are made below MSP."

BJP's Haryana unit chief Om Prakash Dhankar, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh MP Dharambir Singh, Kurukshetra MP Nayab Singh Saini and Hisar MP Brijendra Singh met the farmers on Saturday and claimed that farmers were being misled about the ordinances. They also said that the Centre aims to bring structural reforms and allow the farmers better access to a larger market.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Sunday while addressing a virtual press conference said that they will support the farmers' demands. He said that the ordinances passed by the government will adversely affect the farmers as well as the foodgrain procurement processes.

He also highlighted that the ordinances will disrupt "the agrarian foundation that has been laid carefully in the past 50 years." The central government seeks to bring this ordinances in order to bring structural reforms to the agricultural sector.

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