Shambhu locals, shopkeepers protest blocking of highway by protesting farmer unions : The Tribune India

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Shambhu locals, shopkeepers protest blocking of highway by protesting farmer unions

Threaten to block roads if dharna not lifted, raise slogans against state government

Shambhu locals, shopkeepers protest blocking of highway by protesting farmer unions

Local residents and farmers argue with each other at the Shambhu border protest site on Sunday.



Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Patiala, June 23

Hundreds of residents, traders and shopkeepers from nearby villages today reached the dharna site of the farmer unions at Shambhu and protested against blocking of the national highway for the past over four months leading to financial losses and adding to the woes of commuters. On the other hand, farmer unions have said they were “BJP-sponsored agents”, many of whom are “involved with the mining mafia”.

Facing inconvenience, residents of villages near Shambhu had last week requested the farmer unions to vacate the national highway. Residents from nearby villages in Punjab and Haryana, along with shopkeepers from Ambala, today reached Shambhu and entered into an argument with the farmer union members and leaders after their attempts to urge farmers to lift the dharna from the site fell on deaf ears.

Residents said they had to make a detour for their day-to-day works owing to the ongoing protest, consuming more time and resources. “We had welcomed them with open arms on February 12 in addition to opening our houses for them and also served them langar. But instead of understanding our problems, they are terming us BJP workers and goondas,” said Mintoo of Rajgarh village.

“We have requested the farmers many times. Our trade is suffering and two residents from our nearby villages have died due to delay in treatment as the farmers are least concerned about the hardships faced by us,” said Bahadar Singh of Ramnagar village. “We went only to talk to them but they termed us mining mafia or hooligans. The Punjab Government is sleeping and not acting against these unions, which have completely blocked entry and exit through the highway,” he said.

The residents appealed to the farmer unions to immediately clear the highway at Shambhu as the unmetalled roads would not be motorable during the monsoon season that is likely to start in the next few days. “We will block the highway also, and if need be, would answer the farmer unions in the same language they understand if the blockade is not lifted in three days,” said villagers.

While reacting to the developments, general secretary of the Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee Sarwan Singh Pandher, who is leading the union dharna at Shambhu, termed the agitators who entered their dharna site as “BJP agents” backed by the “AAP government and the mining mafia”.

The police said nearby residents had reached the dharna site to talk to farmer union members where the two factions entered into a heated argument. “We intervened to calm things down and the villagers left the spot. No case has been registered as no complaint has been received,” said Shambhu SHO Amanpal Virk.

Meanwhile at Ambala, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Shaheed Bhagat Singh) president Amarjeet Singh Mohri accused the BJP of sending its people to create disturbance in the agitation.

Many patients died for want of emergency care

Many patients have lost their lives while the injured in road accidents or pregnant women have to use the long route to reach nearby hospitals. Instead of Ambala, which is just 15 minutes from our villages, we have to travel an hour to reach Rajpura or other places for health emergencies. — Local residents

Attempt to destabilise our peaceful dharna

It is another attempt by the Centre and the state government-sponsored people to destabilise our peaceful dharna. We are only sitting on the highway while the Haryana cops have raised blockades by placing boulders and wired fencing. — Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary of punjab kisan mazdoor sangharsh committee

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