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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Punjab: Farmers, Oppn protest against power crisis, Cong against fuel price surge

In Jalandhar hundreds of farmers Friday blocked a stretch of the Grand Trunk Road for close to five hours triggering traffic jams that stretched for kilometres and made commuters sweat in the scorching summer heat.

By: Express News Service | Jalanadhar, Ludhiana |
July 3, 2021 6:05:19 am
BKU (Ugrahan) staged dharnas in 14 districts of Punjab against power crisis, rising fuel prices and also against alleged attack by BJP workers at Ghazipur farmers’ protest site. (Express)

From farmers to opposition parties, various sections were up in arms in Punjab on Friday as the state saw protests all across, particularly on the issue of power crisis. The ruling Congress, meanwhile, protested against rising fuel charges. BKU (Ugrahan) staged dharnas in 14 districts of Punjab against power crisis, rising fuel prices and also against alleged attack by BJP workers at Ghazipur farmers’ protest site.

Though Friday’s dharnas were by BKU (Ugrahan), Samyukta Kisan Morcha announced that if the power situation does not improve by July 5, farmers will gherao Moti Mahal in Patiala on July 6. Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU (Dakaunda) said, “Farmers are not getting 8 hours of assured power supply for paddy crops and are burning diesel to irrigate their crops. So, we have no choice but to stage a protest if we do not get full supply for our crops.”

In Jalandhar hundreds of farmers Friday blocked a stretch of the Grand Trunk Road for close to five hours triggering traffic jams that stretched for kilometres and made commuters sweat in the scorching summer heat.

The protest was led by BKU(Rajewal). The blockade began at around 10 am and continued till 3pm, even as police struggled to find alternative routes to ease traffic flow. Sources said farmers had put up a tent on one side of the 6-lane highway and blocked the other side by parking their vehicles. The protesters also brought diesel generator sets to power the pedestal fans that they had arranged at the venue.

Addressing the farmers, senior BKU(Rajewal) leader Kashmir Singh said CM Capt Amarinder Singh had promised 8-hours of uninterrupted power to farmers. But now, when paddy sowing was at its peak, farmers were only getting 4-5-hours of power. “How can farmers transplant and irrigate their crop in such a situation,” Kashmir Singh asked.

The farm union’s youth wing district president, Aman Jot Singh, said that till the time the state government does not supply adequate power, their protests will continue. “If power supply does not improve by July 5, then we will intensify our protests under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha banner. Some farmers may also go to Patiala to gherao Moti Mehal (the personal residence of Punjab Chief Minister),” Aman Jot said.

Sukhbir, Harsimrat join protests

While SAD president Sukhbir Badal was present at protests organised by SAD workers in Ghubaya village of Fazilka district, and Lambi, Harsimrat Badal was present at protest dharnas in Sangat Mandi, Bathinda urban and at Lambi.

Sukhbir attacked PSPCL chairman A Venu Prasad who had blamed the farmers for the current power crisis in the state by saying that it was the result of Punjab farmers’ preference for “water guzzling crops like paddy.”

“I don’t blame the officer. He is merely functioning as His Master’s Voice, and was speaking the language of his Chief Minister in blaming the very victims of the calamity for the calamity. But I urge him and his CM to assure the farmers of remunerative MSP with assured marketing of low water-intake crops like maize, and I guarantee him that Punjab farmers will shift overnight from paddy to those crops. Please stop painting the Punjab farmers as unreasonably stubborn,” he said.

The SAD president said the CM, his Congress party and government were squarely responsible for “plunging the state into darkness and bringing the wheels of all round progress in the state to a screeching halt”.

BJP protest

BJP also organised dharnas across the state. Surjeet Jyani took part in a dharna in Fazilka while Shwait Malik was present in Amritsar. In Ludhiana as well, BJP organised dharna where president Pushpender Singal was present. State president Ashwani Sharma stated that the “government should ensure 24 hours power supply rather than focusing on freebies.”

Congress dharnas

Congress, meanwhile, organised dharnas at district-level against fuel prices. It was part of nationwide protests to lodge a protest against fuel prices which have crossed Rs 100-mark. In Bathinda, it was done near Fire Brigade Chowk where Congress leaders said that people must come out on roads to protest against this hike.

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