Wednesday, March 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

12 farmers hurt in firing
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 11
At least 12 farmers were injured seriously when the police fired on farmers at Piddi village today when the farmers were celebrating receiving the pending dues on their cane crop of the last year.

However, the police said the teargas shells were fired on the farmers when they tried to move towards the local cooperative sugar mill where Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Minister of Irrigation, Punjab, was distributing the amount to the cane farmers.

Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, told this correspondent today that the farmers after performing the bhog of Sri Sukhmani Sahib were holding a rally in the village when the police fired on the peaceful farmers and lathicharged them.

He said Joginder Singh Rooriwala, Mr Satnam Singh Pannu, Mr Jagir Singh, Mr Sawinder, Mr Swarn Singh Ghariali, Mr Kulwinder Singh and others were injured as a result and shifted to the local Civil Hospital where their condition is said to be out of danger. He alleged that the police fired without any provocation.

On the other hand, the police has denied firing on the farmers. Mr Kewal Kumar, SP (Headquarters) who was at the village where the farmers were stagging a dharna in protest against the firing by the police, said the police tried to prevent the farmers when they tried to move towards the venue of the function at the sugar mill in Sheron where Mr Bhullar was distributing cheques to the farmers. He alleged that the farmers used lathis on the policemen, injuring five cops.

The police threw teargas shells and used preventive bullets (plastic) on the farmers.

The police officer said Mr Surinder Pal Singh, Duty Magistrate, who was present on the occasion ordered the lathi charge on the agitating farmers. He added that the injured policemen had been sent to the local Civil Hospital.

Interestingly, the minister, Mr Bhullar, expressed ignorance about the happenings. He distributed cheques for Rs 5.50 crore to the cane growers on their crop for last year.

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