Hours after starting it, Punjab ‘arhtiyas’ withdraw strike

A few hours after going on a state-wide strike against the Punjab Government’s decision to follow the Centre’s direction to transfer the farmers’ crop MSP directly to their bank accounts, ‘arhtiyas’ on Saturday withdrew their strike.
The arhtiyas or commission agents withdrew their strike after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh assured them that they would remain an integral part of the procurement system.
Earlier on the day, around 40,000 ‘arhtiyas across the state had gone on strike to protest against the direct benefit transfer (DBT) of the minimum support price (MSP) to farmers for their crops, bypassing them.
The decision to call off the strike was taken by ‘arhtiyas’ after their leader Vijay Kalra, under the banner of the Federation of Arhtiya Association of Punjab, held a meeting with Punjab Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu in Ludhiana.
After the commission agents announced the rollback of the strike, they said wheat procurement would start in the state.
“Punjab CM @capt_amarinder formally launched wheat procurement in the state after Federation of Arhtiya Association of Punjab withdrew their strike. CM assured the Association members that arhtiyas would always remain an integral part of the state’s procurement system,” the CM’s media advisor said in a tweet.
On Thursday, a group of ministers from Punjab had met Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal on the issue of the “direct benefit transfer” of the minimum support price to farmers for their crops bought by the state on behalf of the Centre.
After the meeting, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Thursday had said the state government has “no choice” but to implement the Centre’s instruction on direct bank transfer of MSP to farmers from the current season.
He had said the Centre rejected the state government’s demand to give more time to implement DBT scheme.
Punjab procures wheat and rice at the MSP on behalf of the central government. Currently, the assured price to farmers in Punjab is paid through ‘arthiyas’ unlike in other states where the MSP is directly transferred to farmers’ bank accounts. (PTI)