Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately initiate steps for the repeal of the controversial Farm Laws, and amendment to the relevant law for including farmers in free legal aid category.
The Chief Minister, who called on the Prime Minister on Wednesday late evening and submitted two separate letters, called for immediate review and revocation of the three Farm Laws that had triggered widespread resentment among farmers of Punjab and other states, who had been protesting at the Delhi borders since November 26 last year.
Pointing to the prolonged agitation, which had cost the lives of more than 400 farmers and farm workers, the Chief Minister said the stir had the potential of posing security threats for Punjab and the country with Pak-backed anti-India forces looking to exploit the farmers’ disgruntlement with the Government.
Urging the Prime Minister’s intervention for expeditious redressal of the farmers’ legitimate concerns by the Government of India to explore an enduring solution, the Chief Minister said the continued agitation was not only impacting economic activities in Punjab but also had the potential to affect the social fabric, especially when political parties and groups take strong positions.
In another letter, the Chief Minister stressed that due to the fragmentation of landholdings, and persistent disputes with lessees and various market operators and agents, the farmers are also facing heightened litigation these days, causing stress on their meagre financial resources. Stressing the need to reduce the farmers’ financial burden as a result of such litigation, he noted that the Central Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 provides free legal aid to certain categories of persons, who are perceived to be the vulnerable sections of the society. Pointing out that the country’s farmers are also very vulnerable, he said that they are, at times, compelled to commit suicide due to financial problems, even though they remain proud and prefer to till their land even at the cost of their lives.
“It is, thus, the need of the hour to amend Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to include farmers and farm workers in the category of persons entitled to free legal services to pursue and defend themselves in the courts to secure their livelihood,” said Captain Amarinder. He felt this step would help reduce cases of farmer suicides and ensure better protection of their legal and financial rights.
The Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to advise the concerned central ministries dealing with farmer welfare and laws to carry out necessary amendments to the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, in the larger interest of the farmers.