Around 40 farmers were injured after police resorted to a lathicharge on a group that intended to go to Chandigarh for a ‘pakka morcha’ (indefinite protest), near Patti, around 25km from district headquarters Tarn Taran, on Monday evening. Police also fired gunshots in the air to disperse the agitators.
Around 300 agitating farmers associated with Kisan Sangharsh Committee (faction of Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu), who have been demanding farm reforms for long, were coming from Valtoha on tractor-trolleys around noon, and were stopped at the outskirts of the town.
Police reportedly asked them to go back, but they stuck to their resolve to move ahead. Around 4pm, police carried out the lathicharge and also detained some farmers.
A protester who identified himself as Mukhtyar Singh said the police also damaged their vehicles.
A farmer, Buta Singh, said around 300 protesters told the police that they are going to a nearby gurdwara where they would stay and would not move ahead till their leaders direct them.
However, police officials said the protesters were moving towards Harike to block the bridge. “We didn’t allow them to move towards the Harike bridge as it is a main link between the Majha and Malwa belts, said a police official.
The police force led by superintendent of Police (detection) Jagmohan Singh and deputy superintendent of police Gurcharan Singh tried to convince the protesters, but to no avail. The SP said they used the force as the protesting farmers attacked the police, leaving eight cops injured. They have been hospitalised.
The farmers have been demanding loan waiver, compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of farm suicide victims, fresh survey to ascertain the actual number of farmer suicides due to debt, government job to a member of the victim’s family and a tubewell power connection at the government cost.
Meanwhile, farmer organisations have condemned the police action. “It’s an attack on the democratic rights. The farmers were holding a peaceful protest,” said state president of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee Satnam Singh Pannu.
100 FARMERS DETAINED IN AMRITSAR
Amritsar: Police detained more than 100 agitating farmers who blocked the Amritsar-Delhi national highway for around five hours after they were stopped on way to Chandigarh at Manawala village. A farmer leader said police raided residences of farmer activists in Amritsar and surrounding areas to detain them.
MARCH STALLED IN BATHINDA
BATHINDA: The police also stopped the protesting farmers at Jethuke, Tungwali and Dhipali villages in the district. Senior vice-president of the BKU (Ekta- Jhanda Singh Jethuke said a large posse of police was deployed in villages to stop farmers even from gathering at one place.
Bathinda senior superintendent of police (SSP) Swapan Sharma said that police didn’t stop any farmers rather the farmers themselves didn’t come out of the Jethuke gurdwara while those in Tungwali and Dhipali also went back. He said 12 protesters were detained and were set free later.
Meanwhile, police also detained over 100 farmers near Mehal Kalan village in Moga and 50 protesters in Mansa district. However, farmers from Barnala started their indefinite protest at the Fatehgarh Chhanna gurdwara.