Chandigarh: Punjab farmers sat on a protest near the Chandigarh-Mohali border Tuesday. It happened after the farmers were stopped from heading to the state capital to press the AAP government with various demands. Among the demands are bonus on wheat and beginning paddy sowing from June 10.
The Punjab farmers gave an ultimatum to the state government. Farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said if Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann does not hold a meeting with the protesters by Wednesday to redress their grievances, they will move towards Chandigarh breaking barricades.
A heavy contingent of police was deployed at the Chandigarh-Mohali border. The decision was taken in the wake of several farmer bodies’ calling for an indefinite protest in the Union Territory over their demands.
The Mohali police put up barricades and tippers and rolled out water cannons to prevent protesting farmers from entering Chandigarh. The Chandigarh police too made similar security arrangements.
“It is the start of our struggle in Punjab and it will continue till our demands are met. Only 25 per cent of farmers have come here so far. More will come tomorrow. It is a do or die battle,” said a farmer leader.
Among their various demands, farmers want a Rs 500 bonus on each quintal of wheat as their yield has dropped because of unprecedented heatwave conditions. They are also against the Punjab government’s decision to allow paddy sowing in a staggered manner from June 18 to lessen the electricity burden and conserve underground water.
The protesters want the government to allow them to sow paddy from June 10. They also want a notification issued for the minimum support price for maize and moong.
The farmer bodies are also demanding that the government lower the charges on the extension of electricity load from Rs 4,800 to Rs 1,200, 10-12 hours of power supply and release of outstanding sugarcane payment. The protesters are also against the installation of smart electricity meters.
Carrying ration, beds, fans, coolers, utensils, cooking gas cylinders and other items, farmers from across Punjab assembled at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali. The protesting farmers said they had got a message from the Punjab government for a meeting.
“We got a message from the Union Territory DGP that a meeting with Chief Minister Mann has been fixed Wednesday at 11.00 am. Then another message came, saying as the CM has gone to Delhi and the meeting can be held with the chief secretary,” Dallewal told reporters Tuesday evening.
He said the protesters were not hopeful of getting their issues redressed by meeting a government official. “It is our warning that if Chief Minister Mann does not hold a meeting with us and resolve our issues by tomorrow, we will be compelled to move ahead further (break barricades to enter Chandigarh),” Dallewal threatened.