AT LEAST five villagers, including two women, apart from two cops, were injured in a scuffle during a protest by farmers in Longowal area Tuesday. The police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the protesters, who allegedly pelted stones. The incident occurred when the police were conducting routine checks for making preventive arrests ahead of a five-day dharna of farmers in Patiala.
Jaswinder Singh, a farmer union leader of Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan), said, “The police were harassing us and unnecessary entering houses of villagers, who objected. However, the area SHO ordered a lathi-charge.” The SHO, Vijay Kumar, and another policeman suffered injuries in the stone pelting by villagers and were admitted to the local civil hospital. Three farmers and two women of Longowal were also admitted to hospital.
Mandeep Singh Sidhu, SSP, Sangrur, denied that any ‘raids’ were carried out in the village ahead of the farmers’ dharna. He alleged that some villagers had attacked a police patrol team fearing that their union leaders would be arrested. Seven farmer unions have planned dharna at Patiala from September 22-September 26 outside Moti Bagh and the police have already arrested over 300 farmer union leaders.
A farmer union leader said they would not succumb to pressure and would reach Patiala in large numbers. He stated that the government was harassing farmers who were already in trouble and their basic right to protest was also being taken away. Meanwhile, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann said,”We condemn arrests of farmer union leaders. It is their right to protest. We are always with the farmers and are ready to support them whereever they need us.”