The protesting farmers on Thursday decided not to march towards Badal village in Muktsar, the native village of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, after the administration fixed their meeting with the chief minister, but decided to continue with their protest at the nearby Rai Ke Kalan village.
The farmers continued to stay put at the gurdwara at Rai Ke Kalan village, 4 km from Badal, as the police prevented them from coming out of its premises. Confusion prevailed throughout the day as farmers claimed to have dropped the idea of holding the three-day protest at Badal village from Friday after the district administration fixed their meeting with the chief minister on January 27. The farmers claimed that the administration had allowed them to hold the protest at Rai Ke Kalan village instead.
“We have agreed to the administration’s plea for not going to Badal village on the terms that it would allow our workers across the state to reach Rai Ke Kalan village for the protest,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokri, state general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugarahan). Kokri claimed that the government had agreed to immediately free leaders of farm and labour unions, who were arrested in view of the protest.
On the other hand, the administration, confirming the meeting with the chief minister, claimed that they had not allowed the protesters to continue the protest at the village gurdwara. Bathinda SSP Swapan Sharma said though they had relaxed the security on the plea of the farmers, the police and administration had not yet decided on their plea to continue the protest at Rai Ke Kalan village. “We will not allow outsiders to enter the village. Nothing has been discussed with farmers regarding continuation of the protest,” the SSP said, adding that the farmers had decided not to go to Badal village after the administration fixed their meeting with the chief minister.
The Bathinda deputy commissioner also claimed that the administration had not considered the farmers’ demand of continuing their protest. After meeting farmers’ representatives, many things were yet to be sorted out, he said.
Badal village turns virtual fortress
Even after farmers agreed not to march towards Badal village, it has turned into a virtual fortress. The police cordoned off all main and link roads leading to the village. Special check posts have been set up in nearby villages to restrict the movement of farmers. The vehicles coming from Bathinda side were allowed to enter the village only after a proper checking.
Bathinda range DIG Ranbir Singh Khatra oversaw the security arrangements. “We will not allow farmers to reach Badal village at any cost. Heavy security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order,” Khatra said.