Leaving their harvested wheat grain in ‘mandis’ (grain markets), farmers came out on the highways and roads at several places in Amritsar district on Saturday to protest against the failure of the government to start procurement process.
The farmers were joined by leaders of various kisan unions, ‘arhtiyas’ (private traders) and even ‘mazdoors’ (labourers), who work on a daily bases in mandis cleaning the grains, weighing it and then packing it into gunny bags and dumping these on trucks that move the grain to godowns.
These protests affected the normal flow of traffic at several places with vehicles getting stranded on the highways and roads. At several places, the traffic had to be diverted via the village link roads.
BLOCKADE ON NH-1
At Jandiala and Rayya, where the mandis are along the National Highway-1 (GT Road), several farmers waited for the procurement agencies to come forward to purchase their wheat. However, when none turned-up by noon, they started shouting
slogans against the central and state governments and trooped onto NH-1.
At Jandiala, the protesters blocked both the lanes of NH-1 by squatting on the road. The blockade, which started at around 1.15pm was lifted at 4pm, following an assurance from the district administration that procurement would commence by the evening.
The blockade led to a long line of vehicles on either side of the NH-1. The Lahore-Delhi bus had to be diverted to the AmritsarMehta road. Several other buses and even private vehicles preferred to take the Mehta Road from Amritsar itself instead of moving towards Jandiala.
Farmers claimed that they had been waiting for the past three days, but no procurement official turned up to purchase their grain. When they approached officials of procurement agencies, they were told that they had not received orders from their superiors to carry out purchase and neither had they been issued the gunny bags for packing the wheat after purchase.
Tehsildar Manjit Singh was the first to reach the spot. He tried to reason with the protesters, but they refused to listen to him and asked him to send a senior officer. This brought district food and supplies controller Ajayveer Singh Goraya and district food and supplies officer Raminder Singh to the spot. The y assured the protesters that wheat procurement would begin from Sunday.