The police detained more than 200 farmers at protest site here on Monday, while nearly 1,000 others, including senior leaders of Kirti Kisan Union (KKU), Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), Pendu Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU) and BKU (Dakaunda), went into hiding to avoid being arrested.
Though the Punjab Police had put barricades and beefed up security at Moga town for stopping activists of 17 farmer and labourer organisations who were called to hold a protest outside the deputy commissioner's office, farmers breached the tight security of police and blocked traffic on the Moga-Zira road. A blockade by farmers near Dhaleke village, 2 km from here, on the Amritsar-Zira road inconvenienced commuters. Owing to the blockade, movement of buses and other vehicles was severely affected.
The protesters were demanding the release farmer leaders who were arrested by the police at Tarn Taran. When police received information about the road blockade, several police officials, including Moga deputy superintendent of police Gurdeep Singh and his Dharamkot counterpart Sukhdev Singh Brar rushed the spot.
The two DSPs and Moga (city) station house officer Jaswarinder Singh tried to clear the road with the help of 150 policemen, but they failed in first attempt. Activists of BKU (Dakaunda) and KKU raised slogans against the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government.
After an hour of struggle, police dragged Saghar Singh, district president of the BKU (Dakaunda), from the road and put him in a private Tempo. Farmers stopped the Tempo but police hurriedly dragged all protesters from the road and took them to the Sadar police station, Moga.
Gurnam Singh Maddoke (70), block president of BKU (Dakaunda), argued with DSP Gurdeep Singh and asked him to bring chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal to the spot to listen to their grievances. When police official tried to drag him away, several farmers pushed back them and raised slogans against the Punjab Police.
Davinder Singh Ghali, district president of KKU, charged chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal with promoting hooliganism and policies that drove hundreds of farmers to suicide. “The state government was a wager in the hands of capitalists and it was 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,” he added.
On the other hand, sources revealed that on Monday morning police raided houses of various agricultural trade union leaders at Ghal Kalan, Kussa, Kokri Kalan, Maddoke and nearly 50 other villages in the district.
Farmers tried to block road traffic across the district but before they could execute the plan, more than 150 prominent activists were in custody in the Nihal Singh Wala area.
Giyani Chhinder Singh Jalalabad, senior vice-president of KKU, and Baldev Singh Singhanwala, general secretary of PKMU, were also arrested at Moga.
DSP Gurdeep Singh said farmers have been charged under Sections 107 (security for keeping the peace) and 151 (preventive arrest) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).