Punjab farmers protest near Chandigarh-Mohali border to ask AAP bonus on wheat, and paddy.
Farmers from Punjab sat in a protest near the Chandigarh-Mohali border on Tuesday after they were stopped from going to the state capital to ask the AAP government for things like a bonus on wheat and starting to plant paddy on June 10.
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann termed ‘the protest unwarranted and unwelcome,’ and he asked the farmer unions to stop shouting slogans and work with the state government to stop Punjab’s water table from going down.
Mann said that the farmers are welcome to talk to him, but ’empty slogans’ won’t stop him from trying to stop the water table from getting lower. He also said that he is the son of a farmer and knows all about the problems that crop growers face.
Earlier, farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal gave the Punjab government an ultimatum. He said that if the chief minister doesn’t meet with the protesters by Wednesday, they will break down barriers and move to Chandigarh to hold a protest that will last forever.
A lot of police were sent to the border between Chandigarh and Mohali after several farmer groups called for an ongoing protest in the Union Territory to get what they want.
Farmers were protesting, so police in Mohali put up barricades and tippers and used water cannons to stop them from getting into Chandigarh. The Chandigarh police also set up security in a similar way.
‘It’s the beginning of our fight in Punjab, and it will go on until our needs are met. So far, only 25% of farmers have come here. Tomorrow, there will be more. It’s a fight to the death,’ said a farmer leader.
Several farmer unions had called for an ongoing protest in Chandigarh, like the one that happened at the Delhi border for a year against the Centre’s three farm laws, which were changed because of the protests. The farmer bodies made the call a few days ago.
Farmers want a 500 bonus on each quintal of wheat because their yield has dropped and shrunk because of a heatwave that has never happened before.
They are also against the Punjab government’s plan to allow paddy planting to start at different times starting June 18 in order to save electricity and groundwater.
The protesters want the government to give them permission to plant paddy starting June 10. They also want the minimum support price for maize and moong to be made public.
They also want the government to lower the cost of extending the electricity load from 4,800 to 1,200, give them 10–12 hours of power, and pay them for the sugarcane they still owe. The people who are protesting also don’t want smart electricity metres to be put in.
Farmers from all over Punjab came to Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali with food, beds, fans, coolers, utensils, cooking gas cylinders, and other things. The farmers who were protesting said that the Punjab government had asked them to meet.
‘The DGP for the Union Territory told us that Chief Minister Mann will meet with us on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Then another message came saying that since the CM had gone to Delhi, the meeting could be held with the chief secretary ‘Tuesday night, Dallewal told reporters.
He said that the protesters didn’t think that meeting with a government official would help solve their problems.
Dallewal said, ‘We want to warn Chief Minister Mann that if he doesn’t meet with us and solve our problems by tomorrow, we will be forced to move forward.’
The chief minister, on the other hand, said that the protesting farmers could come to the meeting whenever they wanted, but he asked for their help in protecting the environment.
‘Talks can happen at any time. They have a democratic right to hold a ‘dharna,’ but they should be clear about what they want ‘Mann told reporters after returning from Delhi.
The farmers who were protesting were adamant that they could only meet with him. The chief minister asked them if shouting ‘murdabad’ was the way to get a meeting.
He said that the farmers would get the MSP on moong and basmati crops. Mann asked for their help for a year and said that if the farmers lost money during this time, the state government would pay them back in full.
About when the rice-planting season would start, he said, ‘I was born to a farmer. I can see how that could happen. How is June 18 different from June 10?’ Earlier in the day, the protesters started their march from Gurdwara Amb Sahib. As they moved toward the other barriers set up by the Mohali Police near the border between Chandigarh and Mohali, they broke the first set of barriers.
How to keep the peace
But Dallewal told the protesters not to break through the second layer of barricades and to move on in a peaceful way instead.
‘You don’t think it’s a big deal to break through barriers to move forward. But we’re going to sit here quietly, ‘Dallewal said. ‘Here is where we will protest. It’s the same as the protests in Delhi.’ Harinder Singh Lakhowal, the head of the Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal), said, ‘We will win this protest.’ He said that when they met with the Chief Minister for the last time on April 17, they gave him a list of 11 demands and he promised to solve their problems.
Lakhowal said that so far, not a single demand has been met
When the Mohali Police stopped them, the farmers sat down and parked their cars in the middle of the road. There, some of them even started making tea. Near YPS Chowk, on the road between Chandigarh and Mohali, the police had to send people on different routes.
Malvinder Singh Kang, who is in charge of communications for the AAP in Punjab, said that the state government cares about farmers and will meet their real needs. ‘The State government’s doors are always open if the farmer groups want to talk about the farming sector,’ Kang said.