LAHORE: Farmers, in a meeting by the Pakistan Kisan Ittehad (PKI), decided on Tuesday to shut roads, leading to major cities of Punjab and Sindh, to press the government to accept their demands. PKI President Khalid Mahmood told Dawn that they would not announce the protest schedule fearing an ambush by the government, which earlier had crushed their demonstration in Islamabad on the federal budget day with impunity.
Scores of farmers protesting in Islamabad on May 26 were thrashed by police. Over 100 protesters were detained at and the injured were shifted to nearby hospitals.
“We were holding the demonstration peacefully for our rights, using our constitutional rights,” Mr Khokhar said. “We’re dealt undemocratically, brutally with water cannons, tear-shelling, rubber and live bullets in front of Parliament. Two farmers received bullets and were injured. No public hospital of Islamabad admitted them; finally, we took them to an adjoining district,” he said.
He said this time, their demonstrations would be powerful as they would jam the major parts of the country.
“Once we occupy the roads, we will not end the sits-in till the acceptance of our demands that are absolutely based on right facts,” he added.
He said they occupy GT Road and other major thoroughfares leading to Karachi, Sukkur and Hyderabad in Sindh and in Punjab, they would lock down Lahore, Multan, Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Sahiwal.
He said their demands included incentives for the agriculture sector from the federal government as earlier requested by the Punjab government and the Ministry of National Food Security.
“The farmers were demanding the implementation of Punjab government’s and Ministry of National Food Security’s recommendations for the agriculture sector in the budget,” he said.
He demanded the withdrawal of GST, GIDC etc on the agri inputs, a handsome support price for cotton, maize, rice and potatoes, cut on electricity bills for agriculture and the promotion of of research and development culture in the agri sector.
“You had better better accept our demands or get ready for a decisive showdown,” Mr Khokhar warned the government.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2017