Less than 3 hours after he sat on a dharna outside the shut Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant at Bathinda on Wednesday, a 55-year-old farmer was found dead at the spot, officials said.
Joginder Singh, from Cheema village of Sangrur district, started his protest dharna at 7 am and was found lying dead around 10 am. He was carrying a flag of Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan) and a placard on which it was mentioned that he is sacrificing his life to protest against the decision of selling the land of the thermal plant.
While his body was shifted to mortuary at Bathinda civil hospital, farmer unions launched a protest demanding Rs 10 lakh compensation, job for a family member and re-starting of the thermal plant. Till the time of filing this report, the dharna was going on.
Joginder’s son Kulwinder Singh (32), said, “My father was a very emotional person. He had been very upset when people were not letting cremate Bhai Nirmal Singh’s body in Amritsar. He became all the more worried after government announced to sell the thermal plant land. On Tuesday, he had participated in a dharna against fuel price hike in Sangrur. I called him today morning, but his phone came switched off. At 10 am, we got this news from Bathinda thermal police station. We had no idea that he had reached Bathinda yesterday. He was an active member of BKU (Ugrahan).”
Though cause of death was not known, but union members said that Joginder died by suicide.
Shingara Singh Maan, president of BKU (Ugrahan) unit said, “The post mortem has not been done. We had two rounds of meetings with tehsildar, but nothing concrete materialises. We want compensation to be given here, while the other demands can be raised before the Punjab government”.
Meanwhile, former minister Sikander Singh Maluka and SAD’s former MLAs Darshan Singh Kotfatta and Sarup Chand Singla said they hold Congress government responsible for Joginder’s death. Maluka said, “His sacrifice will not go waste, we will raise this issue and get justice for his family. We will not let land of thermal be sold.”
Dr Nanak Singh, SSP Bathinda, said, “We will take action after cause of death is known”.
Punjab government on June 22 had decided to utilise land of thermal plant which is lying closed since January 1, 2018 and had announced that they will develop an industrial estate on its 1320 acres.
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