Security up in Punjab before PM’s visit as farmers plan stir - Hindustan Times
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Security up in Punjab before PM’s visit as farmers plan stir

By, , Patiala, Jalandhar
May 23, 2024 05:06 AM IST

Thousands of police personnel and at least three companies of paramilitary forces have been stationed at various points in the state.

Thousands of police personnel and at least three companies of paramilitary forces were on Wednesday stationed at various points in Punjab ahead of a call by farmer unions for a demonstration against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is scheduled to arrive in the state to kick off his election campaign on Thursday.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) gave a call to protest against the PM (Representational Image)
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) gave a call to protest against the PM (Representational Image)

According to people aware of the security set-up, the cities of Patiala, Jalandhar and Gurdaspur – where Modi is slated to campaign for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates on Thursday and Friday – turned into fortresses with the deployment of nearly 10,000 state police personnel and three companies of paramilitary forces, as the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) gave a call to protest against Modi’s visit amid a continued deadlock between the Centre and agriculturists over various demands.

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In 2022, the Prime Minister’s convoy was stuck on a flyover near Ferozepur for 15-20 minutes due to a blockade by farmers. Modi, who was travelling by road from Bathinda airport due to the inclement weather, had to call off his plans to address the BJP rally in Ferozepur, ahead of the assembly elections in the state.

Punjab director general of police Gaurav Yadav is overseeing the security arrangements.

The people cited above said that in Patiala, movements of heavy vehicles were diverted and the entire district has been declared a no-flying zone till Modi’s rally is concluded at the Raja Bhalindra Singh Sports Complex (Polo Ground). Soil-laden trucks were parked along the roads leading to the rally site and people entering the district are being screened at multiple checkpoints to ensure no farmer is able to reach the venue, they said.

“We will not allow farmers to enter the city at any cost. We had requested them to hold protests at designated places but they refused,” a Patiala police officer said, seeking anonymity.

State BJP chief Sunil Jakhar reviewed the security arrangements in Patiala on Wednesday. Sitting MP Preneet Kaur, who is seeking a re-election, said: “The PM’s rally will serve to strengthen the BJP in Punjab. If anyone can solve the major problems of Patiala, it is only Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

Also Read: Don’t protest at PM’s rally, submit memorandum, BJP urges farmers

Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said farmers will show black flags to Modi when he visits Punjab for poll campaigning. “We have today decided that when Modi comes to Punjab, we will hold a protest against him by showing black flags,” he said.

In Jalandhar, the district administration has deployed nearly 4,000 police personnel and paramilitary forces to keep an eye on the security. Heavy and commercial vehicles plying on several routes, including Amritsar to Ludhiana and Ludhiana to Himachal Pradesh/Pathankot, have also been diverted.

Senior officials of the Special Protection Group also held a meeting with deputy commissioner Himanshu Aggarwal to review the arrangements, the people cited above said.

Meanwhile, farm leaders said they are “left with no option but to march towards Modi’s rally to press for their demand for a law on MSPs”. “If the police don’t allow us to reach near the venue, we will protest peacefully by staging a sit-in wherever we are stopped. If the police does not allow that too, then we will decide on our next course of action,” Kisan Mazdoor Morcha convener Sarwan Singh Pandher said.

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