In the last three months,Punjab has seen over 600 agitations by various associations and unions of employees,farmers,unemployed and so on. The reason: With Assembly elections around the corner,these organisations want to put pressure on the government so that it accepts their demands. The government,on the other hand,had gone soft while handling such protests. Its reason: With polls coming up,the leaders do not want to annoy any section of the society.
According to sources,protestors are everywhere be it department employees,teachers,health workers,doctors,vetenary doctors,technical staff,regular employees,contractual staff,unemployed,kisan organisations,labourers or linesmen. The list is endless.
Around 150 of such unions have held agitations against the government. And to keep everyone happy,the government is agreeing to most of the demands. It has also set up a three-member cabinet sub-committee comprising Local Government and Industries Minister Tikshan Sud,Finance Minister Dr Upinderjit Kaur and Food and Supply Minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon to look into the demands. The panel will meet the concerned employees on December 14.
These unions and organisations have demonstrated in one form or the other sitting on dharans,pen down strike,agitations,rallies and so on. These have gone on strike at least twice so that their demands reach the right places in the corridors of power. Now they know that by demonstrating,the government will accept some demands,as elections are around the corner, said an official.
He added: Also,before launching a protest,one union finds out what was the outcome of other demonstrations. So,there is competition among them. They think that if others had protested and got so much relief,why cant we do the same?
According to the data available with the state police,in these 600 agitations,around 3,500 protestors had been held under preventive arrests and later released. In many,protestors were lathicharged,which led to further protests. But this does not include the farmers agitation at Mansa over land acquisition for the India Bulls power plant. There,one farmer was killed and over 1,200 arrested and later released. Finally,the government decided not to acquire the land.
At present,the main stir is the one being held by EGS teachers,following their colleague Varinder Kaur being slapped by a Akali Dal sarpanch in Daula village.
Moreover,in the last few days,demanding the fulfillment of their long pending demands,members of the Bhartiya Kisan Union had tried to march towards Chandigarh but were stopped. Though initially protests were taking place at 14 places,currently,the stir was on at seven spots with around 3,500 farmers.
A senior official said,In the run up to the 2007 elections,the number of agitations were less than half of this time. Moreover,though one can be booked for blocking national highways,but that clause is never used by the state government. Only in 2008,the clause was used for the first time to register a case against protesters in Jalandhar.
NH-1 blockade continues
BEAS: Four days after the blockade of NH-1 began,no one from the the Punjab government has come forward to negotiate with the farmers on their demands. Farmers have now threatened to disrupt the government rallies pertaining to elections if they (farmers) were harassed by the police. Meanwhile,commuters are facing a tough time as they have to take long detours to reach Amritsar to avoid the blockade.