Two unemployed linemen, on Saturday, climbed a water tank in Dhudike, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to preside over the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Punjab Kesari Lala Laj Patrai on August 28, with bottles of petrol and threatened to immolate themselves if their demands were not accepted. They also raised anti-government slogans. They also refused to come down the tank till the visit of the Prime Minister.
While the PM's visit to Dhudike, birthplace of renowned freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai, is still stuck in uncertainty but a heavy police force has already been deployed in the village. Harbans Singh, pump operator at the waterworks, told the HT that when he woke up around 5.00 am on Saturday, and saw two men handling petrol bottles climbing on the water tank. "I reported the matter to some prominent people of the village as well as the policemen, who were deployed in the area," he said.
The protesters have been identified as Hatesh Kumar, a resident of Ferozepur, and Navdeep Singh, a resident of Hoshiarpur. The protester linemen warned the local administration that they would not come down from the water tank till the PM's visit. Senior police officials reached the spot and appealed to the protesters to come down, but to no avail.
Tirmal Singh, president of the Unemployed Linemen Union, Punjab, said that Hatesh Kumar had also attempted suicide on January 14 at Sri Muktsar Sahib on the occasion of the Maghi mela. “Our colleagues Raj Kumar of Fazilka and Sarabjirt Singh of Tarn Taran had committed suicide on December 12 in 2013 and July 12 in 2013 respectively, however, the state government has not been paying attention to the genuine demands of the unemployed linemen,” he said.