February 10, 2021 9:52:05 am
For the second time in two days, Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma Tuesday had to face protests with his car allegedly being attacked by some unidentified persons with sticks and rods when he arrived in Ferozepur for a meeting with local party workers.
Protesters, allegedly holding flags of BKU Dakaunda, Krantikari Kisan Union and Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, protested outside the private building where Sharma chaired the meeting of party workers.
“My vehicle was attacked with iron rods and sticks. All these protests are sponsored by Congress. The Congress workers came holding kisan union flags to defame the farmers,” he alleged.
Sharma said he escaped unhurt during the attack on his vehicle. After the incident, Sharma and his party workers staged a dharna near the residence of the Ferozepur deputy commissioner demanding action against the miscreants. The BJP workers also blocked the highway. They lifted the dharna only after SSP Ferozepur Bhagirath Singh Meena assured them of a probe.
The state BJP chief had come discuss issues related to the upcoming civic body polls. Heavy security arrangements were made by the police at Sharma’s meeting venue. Despite the presence of the police force, farmers reached the venue and started raising slogans against the BJP. They also tried to force their way into the venue following which the police resorted to cane charge to disperse the protesters
As soon as Sharma came out after the meeting, a few unidentified persons allegedly attacked his vehicle with sticks.
A BJP leader Devinder Bajaj said that they have lodged a complaint with the SSP “but we don’t think anything will happen as police allows protesters to come near venues”.
Farmer leaders, however, said they had come only to protest against the state BJP chief and not to hurt him. They said they had come to express their anguish against the BJP leaders only and none of them wanted to hurt him. Harnek Singh Mehma, a farmer leader leading the protest, said, “We lodged protest against BJP who have attacked our very existence”.
Later, in Abohar, police took Sharma to a party meeting venue through the back gate as farmers were protesting at the front gate. After the meeting with party candidates contesting the municipal elections, Sharma left from the back gate towards Bathinda where again protesters followed him and he had to change the meeting venue at the last minute.
Jagseer Singh, a farmer from BKU Ugrahan said, “We staged a protest near a hotel where Sharma was to attend a meeting but he never came. However, our message went loud and clear that we are against this Kisan Virodhi party”.
In Abohar, farmers claimed that they were manhandled by policemen and clothes of one of them had also been torn. They later held a shirtless protest against the BJP and the Punjab Police.
Meanwhile, Sharma said he was moving around in districts to meet party wortkers who are contesting the municipal elections. “It seems some people wanted to take benefit of the situation on the pretext of farmer’s agitation,” said Sharma.
Questioning the role of police, Sharma asked the police how did miscreants reach the venue where he was to hold a meeting and said that this was a result of some “conspiracy” involving some police officials.
He said he refused to take police security and demanded a probe into the matter. Sharma also attacked the Punjab DGP, accusing him of becoming a “puppet” in the hands of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Late in the evening, Punjab Police, in a statement, said that the Ferozepur police accorded safe passage to Sharma’s convoy after his party meeting venue was gheraoed by the farmer unions.
Following directions from DGP Dinkar Gupta, IG Bathinda range Jaskaran Singh and SSP Ferozepur Bhagirath Meena made comprehensive security arrangements at the party meeting venue.
According to police, BJP had earlier planned to organise the meeting at Modern Plaza in Ferozepur, which was considered to be a safe venue. However, at the last minute the venue was changed to City Plaza, which has only one approach/exit road.
IGP Bathinda Jaskaran Singh said that sufficient police force was deployed and a human chain was formed by the cops to prevent protesters from approaching the venue gate. He said that members of various farmers unions reached City Plaza after breaching police barricades. He said despite being advised not to come out, Sharma started moved towards his car. He said that agitators then broke the human chain formed by the police and started chasing the Sharma’s vehicle.
“Acting swiftly, the police force successfully provided a safe passage to the convoy of BJP president and vehicles of other BJP leaders,” said IGP Jaskaran Singh.
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