Amid a raging protest by farmers at various Delhi border points, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet members of the farming community, including Sikh cultivators in Gujarat, during a visit to Kutch district on Tuesday. This comes amid angry protests by farmers against the new agri reforms for 20 days now.
Modi will be in Dhordo on Tuesday where he is set to lay the foundation stones for several projects coming up in different parts of the border district. These projects include the world’s largest hybrid renewable energy park, a desalination plant, and a milk chilling plant.
Ahead of the main event, the prime minister will hold discussions with farmers of Kutch district at the venue. A group of Sikh farmers, settled in areas near the Indo-Pak border, has been invited for an interaction with the PM, a release by the state government’s Information Department mentioned.
As per a rough estimate, around 5,000 Sikh families reside in and around Lakhpat taluka of Kutch district. Sikhs started settling in Lakhpat after the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri urged citizens to settle in this barren patch of land after the 1965 India-Pakistan war.
Over the last several days, farmers, most of them from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting outside Delhi against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
The Centre has repeatedly sought to allay fears over the new farm laws and asserted there will be no tinkering with the existing MSP regime.
(With PTI inputs)