February 7, 2021 8:48:22 am
As 34 farmer unions in Punjab organised chakka jam at 350 sites across the state, union leaders took extra care to ensure that Saturday’s protest remained peaceful. Apart from several senior union leaders travelling from Tikri and Singhu borders to address people, strict instructions were passed on to youngsters to avoid creating any law and order situation.
Instructions were issued to young protesters to drive slowly, avoid unnecessary arguments and to offer help to anyone in need on the highways.
Buta Singh Burjgill, president of BKU (Dakaunda) said, “I came from the Singhu border last night and on Saturday afternoon, I addressed two gatherings in Bathinda district. One was in Maur and another on the Bathinda-Mansa road. Union’s senior vice president Manjit Dhaner also came and addressed various gatherings in Barnala.”
He added, “After the January 26 tractor parade, this was the first major programme countrywide. So, we wanted that peace is maintained. Though our dharnas have remained peaceful and this is our main strength but January 26 episode by ‘anti-social elements’ after mingling in our groups had caused great harm to us. So we had given repeated instructions to youngsters who were to bring people in tractor-trolleys till dharna sites to drive slowly and remain polite.” Dhaner said, “This was the reason that Samyukta Kisan Morcha had given a call for chakka jam for 3 hours only, so that people can come to dharna sites by noon and also reach back home safely before the sun sets. Idea was to show our strength and also to make our demands heard.”
Burjgill said, “We specially told all the speakers that no one should make any personal attacks on any leader. Our protest is against farm laws, NDA government. So, we directed speakers not to give any provocative speeches.”
While 32 unions’ members organised combined gatherings, KMSC and BKU (Ugrahan) who are not part of SKM organised their individual protest gathering.
“We organised protests at more than 50 places in Majha, which included Amritsar’s main entrance gate, Majitha, Mehta Chowk. Our district heads were already in Punjab and we ensured that everything ran peacefully after the January 26 episode in Delhi. We told people everywhere in speeches that peace is our strength and let’s show the same to this world,” said Vicky Jainpuri, press secretary of the KMSC.
Ravneet Singh Brar, national spokesperson of BKU (Kadian), said,”I along with few other leaders came from Singhu border to Punjab to address gatherings so as to deliver a message of what all is going on at Delhi borders. I was on airport road in Amritsar. I pointed out the people who gained from the January 26 violence and they are definitely not farmers.”
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), said,” Our union blocked traffic at 33 places in 12 districts of Punjab out of which at 13 sites on the highway toll plazas, our dharnas have been going on for the past 129 days. After January 26 episode, people came to our protest sites in Tikri, Singhu as well and even attacked us. However, we remained peaceful at all sites and we don’t want anything untoward to happen in future as well. We always remain peaceful, but once bitten is twice shy. Our standard instructions to everyone were not to do make personal attacks on anyone except Deep Sidhu who is BJP-RSS man and who tried to defame peaceful farmers.”
Women participated in large numbers at almost all the dharna spots along with children as well. At the Moonak-Tohana highway, women outnumbered men in their participation at the dharna site.
In Barnala, teenagers too addressed the gathering. In Ludhiana, many city residents, including minor kids – some even less than five, were part of the protests.
“I am a farmer” stickers were seen on jackets and sweaters of several protesters at Ladhowal toll plaza and also near MBD mall in Ludhiana.
In Doaba, farmers started gathering on the main highways even before noon, and started the ‘chakka jam’ exactly on time. Farmers, labourers, Sikh organisations, Dalits and people of various walks of life were present at dharna sites.
Activists of a dozen farmers’ and farm mazdoor organisations including BKU (Doaba), BKU (Rajewal), BKU (Kadian), Kirti Kisan Union, Pendu Mazdoor Union, Democratic Kisan Sabha, Sikh Talmel Committee, Bar Association, Dihati Mazdoor Sabha were among the ones leading the dharnas on road.
During their speeches, local farm leaders even gave a call for ‘social boycott’ of the BJP. In Jalandhar, the National Highway was blocked at several places while main dharna was staged on the flyover of Punjab Armed Police (PAP) chowk.
In Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala too, farmers came out on national and state highways and sat on the roads. While emergency services were allowed, other vehicles could move ahead only after 3 pm.
In Tanda and Mukerian, activists of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and seven other farm unions blocked the road. Bhartiya Kisan Union (Doaba) leaders said that protests would be intensified if their demands were not met.
The protests started exactly at noon and wrapped up at 3 pm.
“Discipline was the key to this protest and peace is our strength as always,” said union leader Balwant Singh Ghudani while addressing people near MBD mall on Ludhiana-Ferozepur road in Ludhiana.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines