It’s milkmen vs farmer unions: ‘Don’t force your protest on us’

Scuffles between those carrying milk to cities and farmer-activists in Bathinda, Sangrur; dairy owners protest setting up of nakas, holding of vigils

punjab Updated: Jun 04, 2018 09:34 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Bathinda/Sangrur/Jalandhar/Amritsar
Bathinda,Sangrur,Bhartiya Kisan Union
Dairy owners dumping milk on a road at Bhawanigarh in Sangrur district on Sunday after they were stopped by farmer union activists from carrying it to the city.(HT Photo)

Scuffles between milkmen and farmer union activists took place at many places in the state on Sunday after the former were stooped from carrying milk to cities on the third day of the nationwide ‘Pind Bandh’ (village blockade) beginning June 1.

Milkmen and dairy owners protested the farmer unions’ move to set up check-points on routes to the cities and holding of night vigils.

While the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU Ekta Sidhupur) has supported the strike call by farmers under the banner of the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, a federation of 130 farmer organisations, BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) has opposed the call.

Near Bibiwala village of Bathinda district, tension prevailed when milkmen from the nearby villages coming to Bathinda city to supply milk were stopped on Sunday morning by activists of BKU (Ekta Sidhupur). Police reached the spot and the milkmen had to take another route to reach the city. The two groups entered into a scuffle.

Similar scenes were witnessed at Rampura Phul and on the Bathinda- Muktsar road where milkmen resorted to protest by raising slogans against them being stopped from selling their produce.

Activists of the BKU (Ekta Sidhupur) had set up nakas at Jodhpur Romana near Bibiwala village on the Bathinda-Talwandi Sabo road, the Bathinda – Goniana road and on the Bathinda-Malout road.

Sohan Singh, the state president of the Milkmen Union, said that they had told the farmer unions before the start of the strike that any milkmen who want to support them are free do so by not supplying milk to the city areas but no milkman should be forced to stop the supply.

He said that it is not possible for the majority of the milkmen not to supply milk for 10 days.

In Sangrur district also, farmers set up check-points at different places and stopped vegetable growers and dairy owners from carrying their produce to the city areas on Saturday night and on Sunday morning. Dairy owners dumped milk on the roads at Bhawanigarh, alleging that farmer unions were harassing them and milkmen. They said the activists should instead hold protests outside big milk plants.

The BKU leadership, however, claimed that milkman unions are supporting their agitation. Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of a faction of BKU, said he was working to make this protest peaceful. “We are getting expected response,” he said.

At Phagwara, a group of farmers laid siege outside the local vegetable market and did not allow trucks or tractor-trolleys carry farm produce to enter inside.

A group of farmers created ruckus at the new vegetable market by forcing commission agents to shut their shops and not allowing them to sell their stock of vegetables and fruits. Police force was deployed to avoid any untoward incident.

Veggie prices continue to soar

Prices of various vegetables have doubled or trebled since the strike started two days back.

Varinder Kumar, a vegetable seller in Jalandhar, said they are somehow managing to get vegetables from farmers or from the old stocks at mandis at double or triple rates.

Tomato, which was being sold at ₹10 per kg three days ago, is now ₹30 per kg while prices of peas, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower and other vegetables have also gone up.

Not much effect in Majha

In Majha belt, the plan to suspend the supplies of vegetables and milk failed to elicit much response as essential commodities were available in the market as usual.

The Kisan Sangarsh Committee has refused to support the protest.

Its Punjab convener, Kawalpreet Singh Pannu, said they will not support the protest that affects the common man.

First Published: Jun 04, 2018 09:29 IST