M A I N   N E W S

Farmers threaten stir in wake of arrests
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
Agitated over continuous apathy of the State Government towards their demand, farmers owing allegiance to the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) (Ekta) have decided to hold black flag demonstrations besides burning effigies of Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, in all Punjab villages from tomorrow for three days.

“The immediate provocation for giving the call for black flag demonstrations and burning of effigies of the Chief Minister has been the repression let loose by the Amritsar police. Apprehending a massive turnout at the antim ardas and bhog ceremony of Angrez Singh who died in police firing at Manawala railway station last week, the police has been on an arrest spree. As many as 300 innocent farmers have been already detained at various police stations in Amritsar district,” says Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, President of the BKU (Ekta).

Unless the government stopped its strong arm tactics, the present agitation could snowball into a major “satyagraha” to the detriment of the Congress government in the state. In that case, faction-ridden Congress may have to pay a heavy price for it in the coming Lok Sabha elections, caution the farmers’ leader.

He said targeting of office-bearers of the BKU (Ekta) and their relatives would prove counter productive. Even women and children were not being spared. Instead of putting officials responsible for police firing behind bars, innocent farmers and their family farmers were being illegally detained and arrested.

“Among those arrested by the police is Mr Jasvir Singh, Sarpanch of Pibbi village. Mr Jasvir Singh is the son of Lieut Raghbir Singh of Indian National Army of Netaji Subhas Chander Bose.

Criticising the Punjab Chief Minister for his refusal to order a judicial inquiry by a sitting Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court into police firing on peaceful farmers at Manawala railway station last week, Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan maintained that the BKU (Ekta) was determined to hold the bhog and antim ardas of Angrez Singh at Pibbi village on April 7 by mobilising thousands of farmers from all over the state.

The farmers held that now when they should be busy in harvesting their wheat crop and bringing it to the market, they had to go underground to evade arrests and detention by the police.

“Police repression cannot prevent us from paying tributes to our fellow comrade who made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of farming community. Besides reiterating our demands for which we have been agitating for some time now, we want an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of Angrez Singh besides a government job to a member of the bereaved family.

“We also want registration of a case under Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian penal Code registered against the officials responsible for police firing. False cases registered against farmers should be cancelled and all those arrested or detained should be released without any further delay,” says Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, Convener of the BKU (Ekta).

It may be mentioned here that family of Angrez Singh had refused to accept an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh.

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