New Delhi [India], November 4 (ANI): Rejecting the allegations of Punjab farmers being indulged in "anti-national" protests, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said he and other MLAs from the state were forced to come to Delhi as they just wanted to brief the President on their concerns about national and food security.
Asserting "we are here not to disturb the peace but to preserve it", the chief minister warned that failure to resolve the issues of the farmers would lead to unrest, which both China and Pakistan would try to exploit to the detriment of national security.
"I am in Delhi not to confront the Centre but to fight for justice for the poor farmers whose livelihood is at stake due to the central farm laws. We were forced to come to Delhi as the President had declined our request for a meeting on the state amendment Bills, countering the new farm laws, which were still lying with the governor," Captain said.
He further said he knew the governor had still not forwarded the Bills to President Ram Nath Kovind, even though he had no role to play in the matter. "It is my duty to appraise the head of the country of the situation on the national and food security front," he said, expressing hope that the President will give full assent to the state amendment Bills, following the precedent of his predecessor Pranab Mukherjee who had assented to the Bills passed by BJP-ruled states under Article 254 (II) on then Union minister Arun Jaitley's suggestion.
They had even planned to hold a relay dharna at Rajghat, but had to shift to Jantar Mantar as Delhi Police imposed Section 144 at the memorial of the Father of the Nation, he further said.
Addressing the dharna at Jantar Mantar, where he reached after paying his respects at Rajghat, along with the Congress MPs from the state, Captain expressed hope that the central government will look at Punjab and its problems in the backdrop of the sacrifices made by Punjabis over decades.
He trashed any suggestion of Punjab's farmers resorting to anti-national activities, pointing out that their agitation against the farm laws had been completely peaceful.
Punjabis are deployed at the borders, fighting for the country, in many tough terrains and have given their blood to ensure the nation's safety and security, Captain observed, adding that no citizen of Punjab could ever think about indulging in any anti-national activity.
"The farmers are protesting because the new laws of the central government will destroy them and snatch every morsel of food from the mouths of their children," he said.
"We are all ready to give our blood for the nation, as we Punjabis have always done," Captain added.
He also said that as Home Minister of the state, he was aware of the threat at the borders, with Pakistan smuggling drugs and weapons for terrorists and gangsters into Punjab through drones every day. If trouble erupts in Punjab, the entire nation's security would be at stake, he added.
The chief minister went on to slam the Centre over the "ill-conceived farm laws, which would destroy the established system of marketing of food produce through close-knit relations between the farmers and arhtiyas (middlemen)". With just 1.57 per cent of the country's total population, Punjab was contributing 40 per cent to the national food pool as part of the tried-and-tested system, which the BJP-led central government was trying to destroy for the benefit of a few corporates, he alleged.
The farm laws will especially hit the poor small and marginalised farmers who constitute 75 per cent of Punjab's farmers, he said.
"In any case, he added, the open market system exists even today, citing the example of Punjab's kinnows being exported to other states. (ANI)