Shiromani Akali Dal leaders and workers holding a protest against cabinet minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu while violating state government’s ban on political gatherings, in Ludhiana on Monday. (Gurpreet Singh/HT)
Shiromani Akali Dal leaders and workers holding a protest against cabinet minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu while violating state government’s ban on political gatherings, in Ludhiana on Monday. (Gurpreet Singh/HT)

Giving social distancing the go-by, SAD protests ‘slow’ wheat procurement in Ludhiana

Targeting civil supplies and consumer affairs minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu through slogans, the protesters gathered at the Kochar Market Chowk without any social distancing
By HT Correspondent, Ludhiana
PUBLISHED ON APR 26, 2021 11:26 PM IST

Disregarding the ban on political gatherings amid the rapidly rising Covid-19 cases in the state, nearly 60 Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders and workers on Monday held a protest against the “slow and poor” wheat procurement in the district.

Targeting civil supplies and consumer affairs minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu through slogans, the protesters gathered at the Kochar Market Chowk without any social distancing and many of them had their masks lowered.

Among the leaders present were former cabinet minister Maheshinder Singh Grewal, leader of SAD legislators in assembly MLA Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, district president Ranjit Singh Dhillon and district Youth Akali Dal president Gurdeep Gosha.

Police deputed on the spot said action will be taken against the protesters as per law.

The protesters were headed towards Ashu’s house in Model Gram, but were stopped by police at the Kochar Market Chowk. Traffic leading to the chowk from ESI Hospital road was also diverted for around an hour due to the protest.

Amid sloganeering, Grewal and Sharanjit Singh Dhillon said there was severe shortage of gunny bags at the grain markets, forcing farmers to store the wheat in trolleys or at their houses. “The Congress leadership is making tall claims regarding the procurement process, while due to shortage of gunny bags, even the procured wheat has been lying in the open and payment is being delayed to farmers,” they said.

Holding Ashu responsible for the delay, Ranjit Dhillon and Gosha demanded Ashu’s removal from the post of cabinet minister.

On flouting of Covid safety norms, Ranjit claimed social distancing was ensured and everyone was wearing masks. “The protest was necessary to wake up the government from its deep slumber. While the Congress government has failed to serve the public, the Aam Aadmi Party has also failed to perform its duty as the opposition. In fact, it has been working as the B-team of Congress,” he alleged.

Refuting their claims, Ashu’s wife and councillor Mamta Ashu said all arrangements were in place for wheat procurement. “Over 85 lakh metric tonnes of wheat has been procured in the state and payment is being transferred directly to the farmers’ bank accounts. While the farmers are satisfied with the process, SAD is staging protests just to gain political mileage.”

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