With farmer unions threatening to protest against the Bhagwant Mann government if any farmer was arrested for defaulting on their loans, Punjab finance minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Friday directed cooperative banks not to issue arrest warrants against any farmer for non-payment of loan.
“No warrant will be issued against any farmer for non-payment of loan. All warrants have been withdrawn with immediate effect and no farmer will be arrested,” Cheema said in a video message.
He said the government will bring a policy to make agriculture profitable so that farmers are not in debt.
The finance minister’s statement came after arrest warrants were issued by cooperative banks to farmers for defaulting on their loans.
Blaming the previous regime for the arrest warrants, the finance minister alleged the previous Congress government had promised to waive the loans of farmers and then also announced in December 2021 to do it for all farmers irrespective of their land holdings.
“They did not keep this promise. Instead, they issued arrest warrants against farmers before leaving the government,” he alleged.
Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator from Ferozepur (Rural) Rajneesh Dahiya welcomed the decision of the Punjab government to withdraw the arrest warrants of farmers and termed it as a fair and pro-farmer decision. Dahiya alleged previous Shiromani Akali Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress governments had aggravated the plight of the farmers and were responsible for their debt.
“These traditional parties made big false promises to the farmers but have never taken any concrete steps for the development of the agriculture sector,” he said.