Barred from Modi rally, farmers clash with cops in Punjab's Patiala, block roads : The Tribune India

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Barred from Modi rally, farmers clash with cops in Punjab's Patiala, block roads

Barred from Modi rally, farmers clash with cops in Punjab's Patiala, block roads

Farmers stage a protest in Patiala on Thursday. PTI



Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Patiala, May 23

Chaos reigned supreme on all roads leading to the city this morning as hundreds of protesting farmers began their march towards the venue of the Prime Minister’s rally — Polo Ground.

Security personnel belonging to the Punjab Police, Special Operations Group, reserved battalions and Central forces had a tough time dealing with farmers who clashed with them and sat on a dharna when stopped from proceeding further.

BJP’s Faridkot candidate Hans Raj Hans, who was on his way to the rally venue, had to face the farmers’ ire at Passiana. His cavalcade was surrounded by union activists, who refused to give way to it. Senior officers, including Patiala SSP Varun Sharma, reached the spot and tried to pacify them. However, the farmers reportedly turned violent and the police had to use mild force to disperse them. Resultantly, a few policemen and a farmer sustained minor injuries. The singer-turned-politician finally managed to reach the venue just before PM Modi’s arrival.

Members of Bharatiya Kisan Union hold a protest against the PM’s rally in Patiala on Thursday. Photo: RAJESH SACHAR

Farmer leaders said they were not allowed to reach Patiala to meet the PM, whom they wanted to question about their long-pending demands, including law on MSP for all crops and debt waiver. Union leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said, “Earlier, we were not allowed to reach Delhi and now, we are barred from the PM’s rally. Holding protests and raising our issues is our democratic right.”

When asked about the aggressive stance of the farmers, Pandher said, “Hans deliberately used the route to enter Patiala and when he was not allowed to proceed, his security officials tried to get the blockade lifted. It was a ploy on his part to create ruckus and defame the farmers.”

Meanwhile, commuters had a harrowing time as hundreds of farmers descended on the Sirhind and Passiana roads and Rajpura and Sangrur highways by noon and subsequently sat on a dharna there. The police had parked tucks laden with sand and put up barricades to stop their march.

A large number of BJP workers and supporters too could not reach Polo Ground as farmers refused to give them way. Union members raised slogans and showed black flags to BJP workers.

Commuters travelling on the Chandigarh-Bathinda highway were a harassed lot. “I was on my way to PGI, Chandigarh, but the farmers had blocked the road near Dhareri Jattan. I tried to take another route, but to no avail. I had to wait for hours in sweltering heat along with my children,” said Diljot Singh, a Barnala resident.

Meanwhile, at a venue allotted to the farmers in the city by the district administration, the BKU (Ugrahan) held a rally under heavy police presence. Union leaders talked about issues concerning the farmers and the alleged anti-farmer stance of the BJP government.

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