More than 150 farmers were detained here on Sunday, while 500 went into hiding to avoid arrest during state's continued pressure to suppress their agitation.
On Sunday morning, the police raided the homes of various agricultral trade union leaders at Ghal Kalan, Saidoke, Kussa, Kokri Kalan, Ramgarh, Smalsar, Takhtupura, Meenean and more than 100 other villages. Farmers tried to block road traffic across the district but before they could execute the plan, more than 100 of their prominent activists were in custody.
The police took away Davinder Singh Ghali, district president of the Kirti Kisan Union (KKU), from his house on Saturday night.
"The state government is trying to make a fool of the people on the issue of farmers' agitation," said Ghali. “We have 17 agricultural trade unions in the state struggling in a democratic way for the basic rights of the poor farmers. Why did the government attack our peaceful agitation at Tran Taran?"
Ghali charged chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal with promoting hooliganism and policies that drove hundreds of farmers to committing suicide. Major Singh Kaleke, president of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, said the state government was a pawn in the hands of capitalists and indifferent to the plight of farmers, especially in view of the rising cost of inputs such as fertiliser and the declining price of farm produce.
On Sunday evening, the police rounded up Amarjit Singh Saidoke of the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) and some other farmers during the agitators' attempt to block traffic on the national highway to Barnala.
The police had arrested 18 farmers from across the district, said senior superintendent of police Gurpreet Singh Toor. The farmers are charged under Sections 107 (security for keeping the peace) and 151 (preventive arrest) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).