Modi Government’s Raid on Punjabi Arhityas Termed Undemocratic and Unprecedented
CHANDIGARH, Punjab—Income Tax department that works under BJP-led central government of India, today conducted raids on Punjab’s Arhityas (farming commission agents) who are backing the agitating farmers. The agents are an essential part of Punjab Mandi system which is being scrapped under one of three laws introduced by the government, and the farmers are agitating against these laws. The action is being termed as a tactic of the government to weaken the unprecedented struggle run by the farmers with the cooperation of the people of all walks of society. Among the victims of the night-long raids, which were conducted in the presence of 2 bus-loads each of CRPF personnel, were Vijay Kalra (President Punjab Arthiya Association), Pawan Kumar Goyal (President Samana Mandi), Jaswinder Singh Rana (Patiala Dist President), Manjinder Singh Walia (President Nawanshehar), Hardeep Singh Ladda (President Rajpura) and Kartar Singh & Amrik Singh (Arthiyas Rajpura). A total of 14 Arhtiyas across Punjab have received notices from the IT department. Fumed over it, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh castigated the Centre for its intimidatory tactics against Arhityas supporting the agitating farmers and warned that such draconian measures will further aggravate the angst of the people against the central government. Terming the clearly motivated Income Tax (I-T) raids against some Punjab Arhtiyas as an obvious pressure tactic to curb their democratic right and freedom, Captain Amarinder said these oppressive actions will backfire against the ruling BJP. The Chief Minister said it was evident that having failed to persuade, mislead and divide the farmers into ending their prolonged protest against the black farm laws, the central government was now trying to weaken their struggle by targeting the Arhtiyas, who have been actively supporting the agitation since Day 1. The IT raids were conducted at the premises of several big Arthityas of Punjab within a span of just four days of issuing notices, without waiting for responses to the notices, Captain Amarinder noted, dubbing it a clear debasement of the due process of law. Even the local police were not informed or taken into confidence, as is the normal procedure, and instead, the CRPF was used to provide security during the raids by the I-T teams, he further pointed out. “What is this if not a clear case of vendetta politics by the Centre, which is hell-bent on demolishing the farmers’ protest by hook or by crook?” asked the Chief Minister. Captain Amarinder observed that this was not the first instance of misuse of a central agency by the central government to browbeat dissidents into succumbing to its writ and diktats. “These bullying actions of the government do not augur well for the world’s largest democracy,” he added. Pointing out that even the Supreme Court had upheld the people’s right to protest peacefully, the Chief Minister said the central government’s actions amounted to gross violation of the apex court’s directions and the spirit of the Constitution, which granted every citizen the right to raise his voice. The Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that instead of hearing the voice of the farmers, who have been battling cold and Covid for more than 3 weeks now (with nearly 2 dozen losing their lives during the protest), the central government was resorting to all kinds of cheap maneuvers to break their will, he lamented. The Centre should realize that it is not just the future of the farming community but the very Constitutional ethos of the nation that it was endangering with such acts of omission and commission, he stressed. Captain Amarinder reiterated his appeal to the central government not to stand on ego on the issue but to revoke the farm laws and start afresh with meaningful dialogue with the farmers and all other stakeholders to come out with more progressive reform legislations that are in the interest of all. SAD condemns central government for carrying out vendetta raids against Arhtiyas Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Badal today condemned the BJP led central government for carrying out raids on prominent Arhtiyas in Punjab with the sole objective of intimidating them and forcing them to forsake the support they had extended to the ongoing ‘Kisan Andolan’. He said this move would only spoil peace and communal harmony in Punjab and requested the centre to resist from launching vendetta politics against those dissenting against the government by using their constitutional right of freedom of speech. In a statement here, the SAD President said it was shocking that well planned coordinated raids had been conducted on premises of a number of office bearers of the Punjab Arhtiya Association by using the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). “We condemn this oppressive action and assure our Arhtiya brethren that we will join them in protesting against such repressive measures”. Sukhbir Badal said the central government was also going against the principle of federalism and taking on the powers of the State with this latest action. He said the centre should not misuse central agencies to settle scores against any section of society. “Such measures will only further alienate the people from the central government and could have very dangerous repercussions”. Badal also cautioned the central government not to do anything which went against the constitutional ethos of the country. He also appealed to Punjabis to unite as one in the interest of Punjabiyat to ensure no one could spoil the peace and communal harmony in the State.