Dissent central? Punjab, the land of agitations, saw 32 protests a day in 2016 | punjab | top | Hindustan Times
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Dissent central? Punjab, the land of agitations, saw 32 protests a day in 2016

State 3rd in the country, only behind Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu in number of protests; both these states saw almost double the protests, at more than 20,000 for the year

punjab Updated: Sep 05, 2017 09:28 IST
Navneet Sharma
Navneet Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab witnessed 11,876 protests – 32 a day – in 2016.
Punjab witnessed 11,876 protests – 32 a day – in 2016.(HT File Photo)

The Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government took over just five-and-a-half months ago, but is already facing protests from different quarters. The opposition parties, farmers, teachers, jobless youth and others, all have hit the streets in the past few weeks to press the government to meet their demands.

Welcome to the land of agitations. Punjab witnessed 11,876 protests – 32 a day – in 2016. The number of agitations put Punjab among the three most protest-hit states in the country behind Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu with 21,996 and 20,450 protests last year, according to data collated by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) under the Union ministry of home affairs from police departments of all states.

BPR&D data shows that the government employees in Punjab were the most disgruntled and held 5,751 dharnas (sit-ins), demonstrations or protest marches during the final year of the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government in the state.

While political parties were active and organised 2,708 protests in the run-up to the state assembly polls held in February this year, there were also a string of protests by the farmers’ organisations against the rising number of farmer suicides in the state as well as to demand debt waiver and remunerative prices for agriculture produce.

Professor Ashutosh Kumar, a political scientist from Panjab University, attributes the agitations to a long tradition of movements in the state, but it is no longer about ideology, as the protests are primarily against lack of governance, institutional decline and politicisation of the state.

“Once counted among the best-governed states in the country, Punjab is now in a state of despair due to corruption, selective patronage for political or electoral gains, gross mismanagement, crony capitalism and the decline of agriculture sector, the mainstay of the state’s economy,” he adds, listing the reasons for public disaffection.

While the BPR&D report does not give break-up of agitations for districts, Bathinda, the home turf of the Badal family which ruled the state for 10 years from 2007 to 2017, was the protest capital.

A police officer said these daily protests were a huge problem. “They put tremendous burden on police personnel, keeping them occupied in routine law and order duties. The saving grace is that most protests are largely peaceful,” he said, requesting anonymity.

Govt employees held 5,700 sit-ins last year

The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), an organisation, under the Union ministry of home affairs, collated data on these protests from police departments of all states.

In 2016, government employees in Punjab were the most disgruntled and held 5,751 dharnas (sit-ins), demonstrations or protest marches during the final year of the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government.

The BPR&D report does not give the break-up of agitations for districts, Bathinda, the home turf of the Badal family which ruled the state for 10 years from 2007 to 2017, was the protest capital.