A car kept on a horse cart as District Congress Committee President Jatinder Sonia and party supporters raise slogans, during their

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DW BUREAU / chandigarh The Congress held symbolic protests at petrol pumps across Punjab and Haryana on Friday against the rise in fuel prices, and demanded an immediate rollback of the hikes. Besides the steep hikes in rates of diesel and petrol, prices of other commodities of daily use like cooking oil and gas have also registered a manifold increase, senior leaders of the party said.Protests were held at various places like Amritsar, Mohali, Kurali, Patiala, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Panchkula, Hisar, Gurgaon, Kaithal, Ambala, Panipat, Karnal, Fatehabad, Rohtak and Faridabad. In Amritsar, some protesters set fire to an old car, saying they wanted to send a message to the Centre that common people are unable to afford vehicles because of the high cost of fuel. Carrying posters and placards that read "Jumlon Ki Sarkar", "Tel Ki Mar" and "Tel Ka Khel", Congress workers raised slogans against the Centre and demanded a rollback of the price hikes.The party's workers staged a street play in Panchkula to highlight the plight of the common people as a result of the rise in prices of fuel and other essential commodities. Some even rode bullock carts and horse carts as a mark of protest.In Haryana's Kaithal, Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala led the protest. A bullock cart was seen pulling a tractor there. Surjewala said prices of diesel and petrol are being increased at a time when the people of the country are battling the pandemic. He said the sharp rise in fuel prices has adversely hit various sections, including the farmers.Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja led a protest in Ambala City. She said the BJP-led government was "insensitive" to the plight of the common people and was putting more burden on them when they were already going through a difficult time. Leading a protest in Kurali, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar said, "The arrogant government at the Centre has constantly been increasing fuel prices instead of providing relief to the people during the current crisis." "During the Congress-led UPA regime, despite international crude oil prices being very high, diesel prices hovered around Rs 50, which is now near Rs 90 per litre, while petrol is touching Rs 100 per litre", he said."Despite international crude oil prices being high, the government led by Dr Manmohan Singh did not allow the burden to be passed on to the people, but just the opposite is happening under the Modi regime," Jakhar added. Punjab Congress leader Raj Kumar Verka said the steep rise in prices of petrol and diesel has broken the backs of the common people amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the mission 'Kamyaab Kisan Khushaal Punjab', state Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday emphasised the need to improve income of farmers on a sustainable basis while preserving the ecological balance for the future. Notably, the Punjab government has launched a new programme 'Kamyaab Kisan Khushaal Punjab Mission' with an outlay of Rs 3,780 crore for three years. While virtually reviewing the functioning of agriculture, horticulture and soil conservation departments, the chief minister, who also holds the portfolio of agriculture, underlined the significance of convergence of various government schemes in the agriculture sector for end-to-end support to the farmers. According to an official statement, Singh showed concern "over the squeeze in income of farmers from conventional farming", and asked the horticulture department to further strengthen the existing citrus estates to provide the latest knowhow to the farmers to go for fruit cultivation in a big way to supplement their income. He said the production of high value horticulture crops like kinnow, guava, litchi would help the farmers to shift from the wheat-paddy cycle. Likewise, he also asked the agriculture department and Punjab Agricultural University to jointly launch extension programmes for farmers to encourage them for growing vegetables as a part of crop diversification. The chief minister also directed the Vice Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to send a delegation of scientists, experts besides progressive farmers to Israel for studying the model of agriculture development and water management as climatic conditions there are similar to that of Punjab. (editor@dailyworld.in)




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