Scuffles between farmers and milkmen mar Day 4 of protest
Scuffles between the protesting farmers and milk suppliers marred the nationwide “Pind Bandh” (village blockade) agitation in Punjab on Day 4 on Monday, forcing the farmers’ organisations to call off their stir on June 6.
There were scuffles between the protesting farmers and milk vendors at several places across the state. The farmers’ unions had asked dairy owners and milkmen not to supply milk during the 10-day agitation called by 130 farmer organisations, but the latter refused to play ball.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of a faction of the BKU, said there were reports of fracas between the protesting farmers and milk suppliers in Amritsar, Faridkot, Mohali, Moga, Gidderbaha and some other places in the past two days. “I have never supported any violent stir. There was no support from the state government and the situation was going out of hand at some places. We do not want any clashes,” he said, justifying the decision to curtail the agitation in the state.
The decision to stop supplies from June 1 till June 10 was taken by farmers under the banner of Kisan Ekta Manch and Rashtriya Kisan Maha Sangh to press for minimum income guarantee scheme, implementation of Swaminathan Commission report and waiver of farmers’ debt.
In Gidderbaha, a scuffle broke out when some farmer union activists started raising slogans against milkmen and vegetable vendors who responded by beating up their leader in front of police station. Milk and vegetable vendors accused the farmers of behaving like “goons” by trying to forcibly stop them. “A group of farmers even detained a driver to stop him from transporting vegetables in his vehicle,” they alleged. Police reached the spot and tried to pacify the two sides.
Tension prevailed in parts of Bathinda following an attack on a farmer by milkmen in Deon village on Sunday night even as activists of farmer unions continued nakas at different locations in the district to stop farmers and dairy owners from supplying vegetables and milk. There were heated exchanges between the protesters and milkmen over milk supply.
A group of milkmen allegedly assaulted one Ram Singh outside his house. He had to be admitted in Bathinda civil hospital. A case under Section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 ( every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of IPC was registered against milkmen Lovpreet Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Gosa Singh and eight unidentified persons.
In Jalandhar, 80 unidentified persons were booked for forcibly taking away vegetables from Focal Point vegetable market and distributing them free of cost to commuters on the Jalandhar-Amritsar highway.
Meanwhile, vegetable prices went up further in many mandis due to curtailed supplies.