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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Punjab: Day after CM says no FIR, protest sites swell

At Badal village, several delegations of farmer unions had to wait outside pandals for hours as there was no space inside to accommodate them.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | September 18, 2020 11:47:08 am
Punjab Farmers, Pakka Morcha, Badal Village, Punjab Farmers ProtestDuring the Pakka Morcha at Badal village, Thursday. Express Photo

A day after Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh announced that no FIRs will be lodged under section 144 against farmers protesting against the three agri ordinances and the previous cases will be cancelled, the numbers at the ‘Pakka Morchas’ at Badal village and Patiala’s PUDA ground swelled manifold. So much so that at Badal village, several delegations of farmer unions had to wait outside pandals for hours as there was no space inside to accommodate them. Langar could also not be served to many as rush was huge.

Harjinder Singh, a Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan) leader, leading the protest at Badal village said, “Today, the rush was huge and many delegations had to wait outside for hours. AAP leaders too came with their tractors due to which many of our farmers had to wait for hours outside the village.”

Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema led a tractor march with AAP MLAs from Talwandi Sabo to Badal village in support of farmers. However, they could not reach till Badals’ house as some farmers had already staged a dharna at that site and unions did not allow the AAP delegation to pass through their dharna site.

“They wanted to go near former CM Parkash Singh Badal’s house. But our tents have been standing at this site since September 15. We couldn’t shift due to which AAP had to move back. The AAP may have carried out a march in farmers’ support but we don’t allow any political party to be part of our dharna,” Harjinder Singh said.

He claimed that he also got a call from Congress’s Gidderbaha MLA Amrinder Raja Warring sating that he wanted to address farmers independently and not as a political representative. “However, we did not allow him as well,” he added.

Members of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, which is supporting BKU (Ugrahan) in this protest, also wanted to be part of the dharna, but had to wait outside as police had put nakas in anticipation of the AAP march, which were lifted late in the afternoon. “Now we have asked the state leadership to decide on how to manage the stage from Friday onwards as today’s rush was spread out till 4km and the road leading to Badal village is very narrow,” added Harjinder.

The farmers had earlier announced a six-day Pakka Morcha at the two sites.

When asked about increasing number of farmers at the protest sites amid rising Covid cases, Muktsar DC Kumar Aravinda said, “We are guiding people to maintain social distancing. Police have been deputed at the spot to handle the situation if rush increases. I am aware that farmers are coming in large numbers and we will apprise the situation to higher authorities so as to find a way out to reduce the gathering.”

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