Protesting Punjab farmers denied entry into Chandigarh, squat at Mohali border

Refuse to meet Chief Secy-led panel I Bhagwant Mann seeks a year to resolve issues

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/Mohali, May 17

Hundreds of farmers, associated with 23 unions, started marching towards Chandigarh early morning today. They were, however, stopped at Mohali, on the borders of the UT.

Police personnel stop farmers from marching towards Chandigarh in Mohali on Tuesday. Vicky

Barricades and concertina wires greeted them here, besides a posse of policemen, forcing the 500-odd farmers to squat there. Protesting farmers broke the first layer of barricades, but were stopped in tracks by the second. Led by union leaders Dr Darshan Pal, Jagjit Singh Dallewal and others, farmers said they would not retreat till Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann came and met them. Mann, however, proceeded to Delhi for some official meetings.

Navjot Singh Sidhu, PCC Ex-chief

Where’s bonus?

Announcements mean nothing. Where is the bonus CM promised to wheat farmers? Why MSP on maize and moong has not been notified?

On landing in Chandigarh, Mann said the direct sowing of paddy and staggered transplantation were in the interest of farmers. “Farmers should give us at least a year to resolve their issues. Criticising the government is not appropriate.”

Union leaders were initially told they would be given an audience with Mann. However, they were later told that 10 of their members should meet a government panel led by Chief Secretary Anirudh Tiwari, but they refused the offer.

This led to a stand-off between the two sides. After remaining closeted for some time in the Gurdwara Amb Sahib, the farmer leaders decided to go ahead with their march to Chandigarh for a pucca dharna. Across Punjab, claimed farmer leaders, the police had put up barricades and farmers were stopped from reaching Mohali, from where they were to start the march. As a result, just 500-odd farmers managed to reach the Mohali gurdwara. The march then started around 2.30 pm. After their tractors were stopped, they squatted on the road side and set up their tents. Some of them even set up their stoves and started cooking meals.

The dharna is to be held here in protest against the paddy-sowing schedule announced by the state government, besides 10 other demands. The dharna was announced by the union leaders last week, after their talks with the government failed. The farmers have been demanding that they be allowed to go in for paddy transplantation from June 10 and not June 18, as ordered by the state government.

The government had said an uninterrupted eight-hour power supply to farmers would be given in five zones as per schedule. Also ,they demanded the fee charged for increasing the power load be decreased. Besides, they are protesting the conversion of 85,000 smart meters into pre-paid ones. The state government, in a directive from the Centre, was asked to go for prepaid meters if it wanted to continue receiving the power sector reform funds. Farmers also want the government to ensure MSP on corn and notify the decision to give MSP on moong. Farmers say though MSP on 23 crops has been announced, but they get MSP only on wheat and paddy. Earlier, farmers held two rounds of meetings with the government which did not yield desired results.

Paddy schedule, MSP key grievances

  • Paddy transplantation from June 10, not June 18
  • Fee charged for increasing power load be decreased
  • Conversion of 85K smart meters into prepaid ones be stopped
  • Notify MSP on moong, minimum support on corn

#anirudh tiwari #bhagwant mann #farmers protest #gurdwara amb sahib #MSP #navjot sidhu

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