Gourav Sharma Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today started the party’s Punjab Bachao Yatra from near the zero line here and gave a clarion call for re-opening of the international border with Pakistan to facilitate trade between the two countries besides demanding enhancement in compensation to farmers tilling land beyond the barbed wire fence in Indian territory. Earlier the SAD president and the senior party leadership offered prayers at Sri Akal Takhat Sahib to seek divine blessings for the success of the party’s Punjab Bachao Yatra. The Yatra formally started from Attari with Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal leading a cavalcade of a thousand strong vehicles including tractors, cars and motorcycles to the tunes of “Utho ve Sher Punjabio Punjab Bacha lo”.
Party senior leaders Gulzar Singh Ranike, Bikram Singh Majithia and Anil Joshi accompanied the SAD president at the head of the cavalcade along with hundreds of youth on foot. All along the way from Attari to Raja Sansi hundreds of tractors joined the Yatra along with a deluge of youth. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal was showered with petals and garlanded profusely at various stops even as youth ran alongside his Jeep and vied with each other to meet and greet him.
The SAD president held a detailed discussion with border farmers near the zero point during the course of which farmers disclosed that thousands of people had lost their livelihood due to the closure of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Wagah. They also related that they had not received compensation of Rs 12,000 per acre per annum for land across the barbed wire fence since the last two years. The farmers called for moving the fence close to the zero line, saying restrictions on caring for their produce was causing losses to them. The farmers also demanded that compensation for border farmers be raised to Rs 35,000 per acre for all 21,600 acres of land situated beyond the barbed fence. The farmers also complained that a Government hospital initiated by former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal here had not seen the light of day till yet.
Asserting that the SAD was one with the farmers Mr Badal said “we will leave no stone upturned to ensure an increase in compensation received due to losses suffered in tilling land across the border”. He said the party would also make efforts to facilitate restart of trade at the international border which had the potential to rejuvenate the economy of the entire area.
Later interacting with youth at Chogawan along with Veer Singh Lopoke, the SAD president said “we will expose all the falsehoods of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its chief minister Bhagwant Mann during the next one month. We will prove that this party of outsiders and its puppet chief minister who is controlled from Delhi can never deliver justice to Punjabis”. He said the Punjab Bachao Yatra would lay the foundation for the ouster of the corrupt, scam ridden, anti- Sikh and anti- Punjabi AAP government and result in the establishing of a time tested pro- people government led by the SAD which had a record of conducting speedy development along with maintaining peace and communal harmony.