SAD asks CM to order cooperative banks to stop issuing arrest warrants against farmers

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CHANDIGAR: -The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today called on Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann to order co-operative banks to stop issuing arrest warrants against farmers who failed to repay their loans due to the deterioration of financial conditions due to poor harvests associated with a sharp increase in agricultural inputs.

In a statement here, senior SAD official Dr Daljit Singh Cheema expressed his shock that arrest warrants were issued against farmers in Bathinda, Mansa, Ferozepur and Fazilka districts for failing to repay loans contracted with the Punjab Agricultural Development Bank. He said most of the defaulters came from the state cotton belt.

Claiming that the Chief Minister was best informed about the agricultural crisis facing the state and that he had always been a proponent of using heavy handed methods against farmers, Dr Daljit Cheema demanded the immediate withdrawal of the arrest warrants. He said the AAP government should also provide all possible help to farmers including ensuring that they receive a bounty of Rs 500 per quintal to compensate them for the failure of their wheat harvest. “The government should also reduce the state VAT on diesel which has seen a sharp rise in the last month, in addition to proposing other programs to reduce farm debt.”

Dr. Cheema has made it clear that the SAD will not remain silent in the face of the arrest of farmers in the state. “The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) must honor its word and get farmers out of the circle of debt instead of using arrest warrants to humiliate and harass them.” He said the tactic is already having a negative effect, with three farmers killing themselves in Bathinda and Mansa districts, fearing increased indebtedness due to low wheat crop yields.

The SAD leader also said he was shocked that the AAP government failed to react in time and advocated for comprehensive aid to farmers in Punjab following their partial crop failure wheat. “No effort has been made to demand the release of funds from the Disaster Management Fund by establishing a case of natural calamity due to excessive rain followed by a sharp rise in temperature.” He said the state had not requisitioned the center either to take stock of the losses suffered by farmers so far.

Dr Cheema also called on the Chief Minister to get active and ask the center to release funds for co-operatives and land mortgage banks in Punjab. He said Nabard had halted the release of funds due to which banks in Punjab were not extending loans to farmers in the state. “With commissionaires also refusing to provide credit to farmers due to the recent poor wheat harvest, the situation has become very precarious. The Chief Minister must step in immediately and address all issues facing the farming community,” Dr Cheema added. EOM

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