Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday threatened to launch an agitation if the Punjab government does not streamline the wheat procurement system by the weekend.
Badal, who visited grain markets at Goniana and Maulka, said farmers are being harassed due to delayed purchase.
Lamenting the Punjab government’s failure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, he demanded an investigation into the claim that the state has spent ₹1,000 crore to strengthen health infrastructure to fight the spread of the infection.
In view of the pandemic, the state government has banned all social and political gatherings. Gatherings of more than 20 people, including weddings and cremations, have also been banned across the state.
However, Sukhbir visited the two purchase centres with a large group of his party workers and public relations team.
As he was blaming the state for the rising number of Covid-19 cases, several of his team members at Goniana and Maluka were seen violating Covid-appropriate behaviour.
On Wednesday, the district police arrested eight people after registering an FIR for hosting a celebratory function in which more than 20 people were present at the Civil Lines Club.
Sukhbir himself did not adhere to social distancing and several among his team were without masks. No appeal was made to farmers, mediapersons or his SAD activists to follow the guidelines.
He said farmers have been waiting at the mandi for over 12 days and the agencies have not bought grains. “More than 40% of farmers await payment and chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has not intervened. In the interest of farmers, the SAD will wait for the government’s action to redress farmers’ problems in the next three days,” he said.
Deputy commissioner B Srinivasan said he would seek a detailed report from the district mandi officer. “Social distancing should be followed as this is a crucial time of medical emergency,” he said.