Amarinder urges PM to immediately resume dialogue with agitating farmers amid cross-border threat

·3-min read

Chandigarh, Jul 16 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately resume talks with agitating farmers, sending him a letter that cited 'cross-border threat' by ISI-backed groups ahead of the state assembly polls.

Singh proposed to lead an all-party delegation from Punjab for a discussion with the prime minister to find a durable and amicable solution to the farmers' protests which are 'threatening the state's social fabric and impacting economic activities as well', said a government statement.

Protesting farmers are camping at Delhi borders demanding repeal of the Centre's three farm laws.

In a letter to Modi, the chief minister cited 'heightened cross-border threat and increased drone and other terrorist activities by ISI-backed groups, including plans by Khalistani outfits to target certain farmer leaders'.

He warned that powers across the border 'may try to play upon the charged emotions of our proud, sincere, and hardworking farmers' of Punjab.

'The situation is presently under control but I fear that provocative statements, conduct of some political parties and the emotional backlash might create law and order problems and also lead to irreversible damage to the hard-earned peace in the state,' Singh said.

He underscored the need for the Union government to address farmers' genuine concerns.

The statement pointed to 'rising resentment' in Punjab on account of the farm laws, which, Singh said, he had asked to be reviewed in his two letters written in 2020.

The statement also noted an increase in drone activity in villages falling within 5-6 km of Indo-Pak border earlier, with 'consignments of weapons and heroin being delivered into India by Pakistan'.

Intelligence reports also suggest that with the Assembly elections in Punjab just a few months away, 'ISI-led Khalistani and Kashmiri terror outfits are planning terrorist action in the state in the near future', the statement said.

In his letter, Singh pointed out that farmers have been protesting for the past seven months on Delhi-Haryana borders, and also in the state, demanding repeal of these laws, and their protests have been more or less peaceful.

'It is a little unfortunate that the multiple rounds of engagement between the Union ministers and representatives of farmers' groups have not proved successful,” he said.

'Besides the threat to the state's socio-economic fabric due to the unrest caused by the farm laws, the day-to-day political activities in line with people's democratic rights are also adversely affected due to the agitation, though the state government has tried its best to maintain law and order,' said the chief minister.

'It has been over seven months since the farmers' agitation began against the farm laws, which they claim will do away with the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations,' he said.

Over 10 rounds of talks with the government, which has been projecting the laws as major agricultural reforms, has failed to break the deadlock between the two sides. PTI SUN CHS AAR AAR

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