It was tough day here on Sunday for people looking like farmers and labourers. Everyone who fitted the description and passed by the mini secretariat was frisked. A heavy contingent of the police was alert to prevent farmers from blocking the traffic.
Agricultural trade unions failed to break the police cordon but even common villagers who had no connection with the protest suffered in the bargain. A group aboard a tractor and heading to a religious function faced humiliation at every checkpoint. “We have been stopped at the 10 posts, so far, only inside the city," said a frustrated Balkarn Singh, who was part of the group. "Our crime: the police said we looked like farmers. Is that a crime?"
Security arrangements were beefed up in the entire Malwa region. More than 4,000 policemen were deployed in Bathinda and more than 2,000 in Moga district. In raids on the houses of trade union leaders, nearly 200 people were arrested officially and more than 700 going by the farmers' version.
The city's bus service remained disrupted and even buses from outstation could not enter Bathinda. Commuters were dropped at city's gates, and from there, hired three-wheelers or rickshaws to reach their destinations.