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Amarinder meets Modi, seeks special package for farmers

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New Delhi, March 24: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a special central government package to provide one-time loan waiver to the beleaguered, debt-ridden farmers of Punjab.

Amarinder, who met the Prime Minister on Wednesday at his Parliament House office, said the meeting was a courtesy call, during which the issue of farm debt waiver was also discussed.

The Chief Minister said though he had sought financial assistance from the central government, his government was committed to waiver of the farmers’ loans in the state and had already initiated a time-bound process for the same.

Expressing concern over the recent spate of farmer suicides in his state, Amarinder said he had requested the Prime Minister to announce a special package to pull the farmers of Punjab out of the debt-trap.

The mounting farm debts was making agriculture in Punjab increasingly unsustainable, endangering not only the food security of the nation but also the social fabric of this sensitive border state,” Amarinder pointed out.

Green Revolution state Punjab contributes 50 per cent food grains to the central kitty despite having just 1.54 per cent of the geographical area of the country.

In recent years, hundreds of farmers in the agrarian state have committed suicide due to increasing debt and dwindling land holding.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister said the total farm debt in Punjab amounted to over Rs 80,000 crore, including the crop loans in the cooperative sector amounting to about Rs 12,500 crore.

“The average debt per farm household in Punjab works out to be Rs 8 lakh (including crop loan), while the state’s per hectare debt of small and marginal farmers was the highest in India,” he pointed out.

“The problem had become so severe that many farmers were driven to suicide to escape the social and moral consequences of not being able to repay their debts,” the letter stated.

Citing data, the Chief Minister said the state had produced a record 160.50 lakh tonnes of wheat during 2016-17, of which 108.24 lakh tonnes was procured for the central pool.

Despite the prevailing drought-like situation, Punjab also produced a record 186.76 lakh tonnes of paddy during 2016 and procured 143.33 lakh tonnes for the central pool.

“Despite their contribution, farmers were suffering from the woes of increasing costs, shrinking resource base and declining incomes, leading to accumulation of debt burden of the Punjab farmers, especially the small farmers,” Amarinder Singh said.

“While these factors had forced the farmers into a vicious debt trap, the rising agricultural subsidies and deteriorating natural resources were further aggravating the state’s agricultural woes,” the Chief Minister added.

IANS

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Sukma: CRPF personnel killed in Naxal encounter

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Sukma, April 21: A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel lost his life in an encounter with Naxals near Kistaram camp in insurgency-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on late Friday.

The gunfight erupted when troops of 212 battalion of CRPF, 208 CoBRA, along with Chhattisgarh police were carrying out a cordon and search operation last night.

The deceased was a native of Madhya Pradesh.

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Raipur: 7-year-old sexually assaulted in school

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Chhattisgarh, April 21: In yet another case of crime against minors, a seven-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted at Raipur School.

Speaking to ANI, Victim’s father said “It was her first day to the school on Wednesday. She went to the school and we wanted to meet her at the school, but we weren’t allowed to do so. While changing her clothes after she returned from school, my wife noticed blood on her private parts and she was not wearing undergarments.”

On being asked if she had reported about the incident to the teacher, the minor replied that the teacher was absent on the second day of her school.

Meanwhile, the police said that they were investigating the matter and were examining CCTV footages of the school. An FIR was lodged for the same.

The president of Child Right Commission, Prabha Dubey, said “I have spoken to the girl personally. She is saying that a ‘bhaiya’ had allegedly molested her. We asked the peon of the school about the undergarment, to which she replied that she had thrown away the undergarment since the girl had urinated on it. I will constitute a team to investigate the matter.”

In the wake of recent Unnao, Surat Kathua rape cases, Indian social media has been abuzz with the words – “rape horror”.

Massive countrywide protests are being held demanding death penalty for those accused of raping minors.

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Accused in fake facebook post on Manohar Parrikar’s health, gets bail

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Manohar Parrikar
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar (File Photo)

Panaji, April 20: A city Judicial Magistrate First Class(JMFC) court on Friday granted bail to Kenneth Silveira, who was arrested by Crime Branch of Goa for posting fake information about Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s “death” on Facebook.

He was released on a personal bond of ₹10,000, reported The Hindu.

In a related development, members of civil society staged a protest outside the Goa Police headquarters here on Friday morning condemning the arrest.

Kenneth, 35, was arrested by the Crime Branch on Wednesday, a day after he put up the post on social media, on a complaint by a BJP office-bearer.

Parrikar is undergoing treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer in the US.

On Friday, a few dozen protesters rallied at the police headquarters and accused police of trying to “muzzle” free speech.

The Opposition has also criticised the police for the arrest of Silveira, who contested the 2017 by-poll in Panaji but lost to Parrikar.

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