Tribune News Service
Gurdaspur, September 25
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sunny Deol, who just a few days ago, had supported the farm Bills passed by Parliament and triggered off protests from the SAD, Aam Aadmi Party and Congress alike, today received a major jolt as saffron party’s activists supported Punjab bandh.
Amid strong police presence, shops and commercial establishments remained closed throughout the day in Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Batala, Sujanpur, Bhoa, Dera Baba Nanak, Fatehgarh Churian, Dinanagar and Qadian.
The consensus among intelligence agencies was that the trading community, including shopkeepers, which form the backbone of the BJP, would stay away from Punjab bandh. However, their assumptions were proved to be wrong when not even a single shop opened in any of the major cities.
The talking point among farmers was that Deol “had not done the right thing” by tweeting in favour of the farm Bills following which protesters vented their ire against him today. “He is an MP from Punjab, the food basket of India. The Bills will destroy economy of the agrarian state, but Deol praised the farm Bills. Leave alone offering a solution, Deol is playing into the hands of forces out there to destabilise Punjab. He should resign,” said Satbir Singh Sultani, general secretary, Punjab Kirti Kisan Union.
The BJP leaders claimed that they had not expected that the party cadre would go along with farmers. “We were thinking that shops would open, but they remained closed. Even die-hard BJP shopkeepers decided to stay indoors,” said a senior BJP leader. Even in Sujanpur, a known BJP stronghold, shops remained shut.
“We had demarcated the district into eight zones. Each zone was headed by a DSP-rank officer. At some places, where there were reports that situation could go out of control, we deployed more security,” said Gurdaspur Senior Superintendent of Police Rajinder Singh Sohal.
Political observers claimed that traders knew that their business depends upon agriculture. “If something drastic happens to agri-economy, we too will be hit. It is going to have a cascading effect. That is why we decided to back the farming community. We all know if the farmer is distressed, we too will suffer,” said, Tarsem Lal, a Pathankot-based businessman.
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