LAHORE: On the call of Pakistan Kisan Rabita Committee, farmers held protest demonstrations in 30 different districts of the country demanding start of the purchase of wheat from growers and arrest of the people involved in the wheat scandal.

In Punjab, the protests were held in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, Vehari, Jhang, Pakpattan, Chiniot, Kasur, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Burewala, Chishtian and Jampur.

In Sindh, the farmers took to streets in Karachi, Shikarpur, Nawabshah, Qamber Shahdadkot, Nowshehru Feroze, Mir­purkhas, Dadu, Sanghar and Shahpur Chakar. Protests were also held in Quetta and Jhal Magsi in Balochistan, and in Peshawar and Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

In Lahore, hundreds of farmers, including men, women and youth, assembled at Charing Cross on The Mall. They demanded the Punjab government to immediately begin buying wheat from the growers.

Addressing the demonstrators, PKRC general secretary Farooq Tariq presented the charter of demands of the farmers. It included immediate start of purchase of grain from farmers; arrest of those involved in wheat import before harvest season; market regulation to ensure fair price of each produce; withdrawal of grain import policy for private sector; minimum support price for all crops; rejection of ‘neoliberal’ and ‘anti-farmer’ policies of the International Mon­etary Fund; compensation for farmers affected by the wheat scandal; and strict action against those lending money to small farmers on interest.

Mehr Mohammad Buta, a smallholder from Sheik­hupura, said that as the government did not buy wheat from them as a result of which the grain market crashed, leaving the growers high and dry and unable to plant next crops.

Those who addressed the demonstration in Lah­ore in­­cluded Saima Zaa, Rifat Maqsood, Qamar Abbas, Zaig­ham Abbas, Has­nain Jameel, Ali Abdullah and others. A heavy police contingent was present on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2024

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