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Okara Military Farmlands issue referred to Senate Human Rights Committee

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Islamabad May 19, 2016: On a motion moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar the Chairman Senate today referred the issue of use of brute force against the peasants of Okara military farmlands to the Human Rights Committee for report.


The issue came up during discussion on an adjournment motion moved by PTI Senator Azam Swati on the continued neglect by the government of the farming sector and the growing frustration and unrest among the farmers.


Taking floor Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the farmers were suffering and agricultural sector declining because the state callous attitude towards the farmers.


The state has not only neglected the farming community but is also doing nothing to stop the powerful sections from dispossessing farmers from their land he said and recalled the use of brute force against the farmers of Okara military farmlands last month.


He said that Okara peasants only wanted to highlight their grievances by observing the International Peasants Day on April 17, 2016 but the state fearing that it will expose how their lands are being grabbed retaliated by arresting the unarmed villagers and charging them with terrorism.


It is sad that anti terror laws have been used to stifle dissent and curb farmers voice, he said and asked how can farming prosper in such an environment.


He also expressed apprehensions that the villagers may also be tried in military courts. If the anti terror laws have been pressed against the villagers there is serious apprehension that the farmers may even be tried in military courts.


He said his apprehensions were based on reports that the general secretary of the Anjuman Mazareen Punjab (AMP) has been shifted from Sahiwal jail to a military cantonment and demanded their release.


He called for revising the wheat support price and giving incentives to farmers to increase production and save them from ruination.


He said that in a similar situation during the days of Benazir Bhutto when the potato growers were facing crippling losses the former prime minister had announced that she will purchase the entire crop from famers at official price and throw into the sea if needed but not let the farmers suffer in any way. He said the upward revision of wheat support price during the previous ppp government led to the injection of nearly three hundred billion rupees in the national economy.


This however, requires empathy towards the agriculture sector and farmers and realization that food security was linked to the prosperity and well being of farming community which the ruling elite is incapable of demonstrating, he said. The chair then referred the matter to human rights committee.

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