Two local Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders were allegedly roughed up on Friday by farmers and locked in a room for two hours in Gobindpura village in Bareta where they had gone to distribute cheques of compensation for damaged cotton crop.
Akali leaders Sukhdev Singh Dyalpura, chairman of the Bareta market committee, and Sikander Singh, municipal councillor of Bareta, had arrived in the village, accompanied by a naib tehsildar, in the afternoon, where they were ‘welcomed’ with anti-government slogans by members of a farmers’ union.
The farmers refused to accept the cheques from the Akali leaders and accused them of trying to gain political mileage.
“The Akali leaders have turned the tragedy into a photo-op session. Rather than sharing our grief, these not-so-popular leaders, who have never raised our issues in the past, have now come out of hibernation to claim credit,” said Joginder Singh of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan).
Representatives of the farmers’ union said they would receive the cheques only from revenue officials. They also accused the government of not providing adequate compensation.
The leaders, along with some of the beneficiaries of the compensation, were locked for around two hours in the panchayat office in Gobindpura village. They were later rescued by the Bareta police, who pacified the farmers so that the cheques could be distributed.
The SAD leaders refuted the charge that it was a photo-op session for them and said they were authorised to distribute the compensation.
“We are representatives of the state government and deserve to be part of this exercise,” said Sukhdev Singh.
He said if farmers continued to oppose them over the distribution of cheques, he would invite the beneficiaries to his office for the purpose.