Chandigarh, September 22: Taking a humanitarian stand, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered the release of all the farmers taken into preventive detention ahead of the Kisan Unions’ protest starting in Patiala today. The Chief Minister has also constituted a three-member committee, headed by senior party leader and Chairman Mandi Board, Lal Singh, to hear their grievances and also apprise them of the steps taken by his government regarding the promised crop loan waiver.

The Chief Minister directed the DGP and the district authorities to facilitate the release of the farmers, who were clearly resorting to agitation out of sheer desperation and did not really mean to create any law and order problem. Of the total 377 rounded up, 34 have already been released while 308 are in judicial custody and 35 in police custody. An official spokesperson said the process to secure the release of those in custody was being initiated.

While appealing to the farmers to be patient, the Chief Minister said that he had inherited a government with empty coffers but despite that, steps to waive off the crop loans of the farmers had been initiated and a notification, the draft of which was cleared by the cabinet two days ago, will be issued soon. He said that he was committed to fulfilling each and every promise made in the party’s election manifesto, which had been adopted as a policy paper for his government.

According to the spokesperson, other members of the Committee, headed by Lal Singh, are legislators, Ramanjit Singh Sikki (Khadoor Sahib) and Gurpreet Singh Kangar (Rampura Phul).

It may be mentioned, that the Punjab Cabinet had on Wednesday approved the draft notification for crop loan waiver scheme announced by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in the state assembly in June this year. Besides taking over the entire eligible loan amount of the farmers covered by the debt waiver scheme, the government has decided to also take over the outstanding interest of farmers from 1st April, 2017 till the date of notification, which will lead to an additional Rs 400 crore benefit to the farmers.

The crop loan waiver scheme will directly benefit nearly 10.25 lac farmers across the state. The Chief Minister had in June announced the waiver of entire crop loans (upto Rs 2 lacs) of all small and marginal farmers (upto 5 acres) and a relief of Rs.2 lac to the remaining marginal farmers irrespective of the amount of loan.

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