Attari (Punjab): Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday launched the party’s ‘Punjab Bachao Yatra’ from near the zero line here, as he gave a clarion call for re-opening of the international border with Pakistan to facilitate trade between the two countries, besides demanding enhancement in compensation to farmers tilling land beyond the barbed wire fence in the Indian territory.
Earlier, the SAD chief and the senior party leadership offered prayers at Sri Akal Takhat Sahib to seek divine blessings for the success of the party’s ‘Punjab Bachao Yatra’ that formally started from Attari on Thursday.
Senior party leaders Gulzar Singh Ranike, Bikram Singh Majithia and Anil Joshi accompanied the SAD President at the head of the cavalcade along with hundreds of youth on foot.
All along the way from Attari to Raja Sansi, hundreds of tractors joined the Yatra along with a crowd of youth.
Badal also held a detailed discussion with the border farmers near the zero point during the course of which the farmers disclosed that thousands of people had lost their livelihood due to the closure of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Wagah.
The farmers also said that they did not receive compensation of Rs 12,000 per acre per annum for land across the barbed wire fence since the last two years. The farmers called for moving the fence close to the zero line, saying restrictions on caring for their produce was causing losses to them.
The farmers also demanded that compensation for border farmers be raised to Rs 35,000 per acre for all 21,600 acres of land situated beyond the barbed fence.
The farmers complained that a government hospital initiated by former Chief Minister late Parkash Singh Badal here had not seen the light of day till yet.
Asserting that SAD is always with the farmers, Badal said, “We will leave no stone unturned to ensure an increase in compensation received due to losses suffered in tilling land across the border.”
He said the party will also make efforts to facilitate restart of trade at the international border, which has the potential to rejuvenate the economy of the entire area.