ISLAMABAD: A large number of farmers led by Kissan Ittehad Pakistan (KIP) held a sit-in on Wednesday demanding the government cut fertilizer prices, including urea and DAP, and provide farmers with electricity at the price of Rs5 to supply. 35 per unit.
The protesting peasants, led by KIP leader Khalid Hussain, entered Islamabad after removing the shipping containers and other barricades erected by the capital’s police force to stop them at the capital’s entry point.
Farmers previously announced they would protest in D-Chowk, but after their negotiations with the county government, they staged a sit-in in the Blue Area and refused to move to F-9 Park. They felt that they would continue their protest until their demands were met.
The Metropolitan Police blocked the entrance to the Red Zone of NADRA Chowk, Ayub Chowk, Express Chowk and some other roads, causing heavy traffic congestion in the city and problems for motorists.
The protesting farmers called for a cut in the electricity tariff and regretted that the government had raised the electricity price to Rs 36 per unit. They demanded to be provided with electricity at the price of 5.35 rupees per unit. The demonstrators also called for subsidies for fertilizers and diesel and for the abolition of taxes on farm machinery and tractors.
The protesters called on the government to set the minimum support price (MSP) at 4,000 rupees per 40 kg. They also called on the government to lower the price of pesticides. They said the government must take effective steps to stop fertilizer blackmarking. The farmers said they should be given loans at a low interest rate.
They said that unbearable increases in the price of fertilizers, electricity bills and other farm inputs have made farming unprofitable. Production of key crops like wheat, sugar cane, rice and cotton will continue to decline unless the government pays attention to rising electricity bills and input costs.
The KIP leader said they would not end their sit-in until their demands were met. He said so far no one from the federal government has contacted them about negotiations. The government must sit down with farmers and negotiate their demands, he said, adding that it is the government’s responsibility to resolve farmers’ grievances.
As of this report, the government has not sent a delegation to negotiate with the protesters and they have continued their sit-in.
A large contingent of police personnel and prison vans were deployed at the protest site and across the city.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022