Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh today accused the Badal government of pushing the debt-ridden farmers in the state to commit suicide through its "anti-farmer policies".
Demanding an explanation from the SAD government for its "failure" to prevent farmers' suicides in the state, Amarinder said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal are following a "clear policy of discrimination" against the farmers whose interests had been completely "relegated to the background".
"They (the Badals) don't care about the plight of the farmers, who are facing an unprecedented crisis as a result of the heavy debts they are carrying due to the government's non-friendly policies," the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president said.
The government's "failure" to ensure timely procurement of the farmers' produce has aggravated their woes, he said.
Reiterating state Congress' commitment to waive off farmer's debts if it comes to power in Punjab, Amarinder assured the farmers that their plight would end after the assembly elections.
Amarinder, who visited mandis in Attari and Raja Sansi areas of Amritsar district, said he was extremely distressed at the situation and had already directed party leaders and workers to go to the ground to interact with farmers.
He said nearly 600 party workers are currently engaged in a door-to-door campaign, interacting with farmers who are reeling under debt burden, as part of the Congress party's mega farmer outreach campaign 'Karza Kurki Khatam - Fasal Di Poori Rakam'.
The door-to-door campaign was launched yesterday in Amritsar in district by Amarinder. The campaign will continue till October 25.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, PPCC leaders Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Gurcharan S Boparai and Randeep Nabha said that as per the Central government figures submitted in Parliament as many as 56 farmers committed suicide in Punjab till July end this year.
The worst hit, they said, is the Malwa region, which was predominantly agricultural.
They pointed out that in some cases more than one member of the family had resorted to suicide.
Citing an ICSSR study report, they said farmers below the age of 35 are the worst affected because of the agrarian crisis in Punjab.
The leaders said that according to the report nearly 48.6 per cent of the farmers who had committed suicide in Punjab in recent years were under 35 years.
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Amarinder also called for setting up a special economic zone (SEZ) within 20 kilometres along the Punjab border.
He said he has prepared a special development plan for the border areas under which special economic zone will be created within 20 kilometres radius, where special concessions will be provided to the industry.
The special economic zone, he said, will generate employment.
He said if Pakistan can have the industry right up to the border, there is no reason why India can't.
Interacting with farmers of Attari and Raja Sansi in various mandis, Amarinder expressed concern over "the distress sale of paddy by the farmers much below the minimum support price as the government agencies are not purchasing the produce on time.