Amid bone-chilling cold, the district police resorted to use of water cannon and mild baton charge on palledars (mandi labourers) protesting under the banner of the Punjab Palledar Union here on Wednesday.
The protesters, in large numbers, had gathered in the grain market here to protest in support of their demands in the afternoon and a heavy police force was deployed at the venue keeping in view the large gathering of protesters.
As soon as the protesters started heading towards the city to hold a protest march, the police tried to stop them and near Haaji Ratan Sahib gurdwara, the police and protesters had a scuffle. Due to a huge number of protesters, the police found it tough to control them and used water cannon to disperse them.
Protesters said that after two months of paddy procurement, they have not got their dues and they were finding it hard to make both ends meet. They were also demanding abolition of the contract system in the grain markets.
As many as 18 protesters were rounded by the police, who, according to deputy superintendent of police (City-I) Ranjit Singh, were released late in the evening.
Superintendent of police (city) Desraj said that protesters were staging a protest without any permission and were planning to block the road and didn't give up their plan despite repeated requests by the police, the police had to resort to the use of water cannons to disperse them.
He denied having used force and said the union leaders were allowed to submit a memorandum to the deputy commissioner on their demands.