Demanding Agriculture Minister Tota Singh’s resignation over the pesticide scam, the Indian Youth Congress workers attempted to gherao the minister’s house in Moga on Sunday.
The police, however, stopped the protesters and used water canons to disperse them.
Over eight lakh acres of cotton in the state have allegedly been damaged because of whitefly pest attack. Pesticides used in the fields proved largely ineffective.
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Flanked by Kamaljeet Brar, son of former Bagahpurana MLA Darshan Singh Brar and other Youth Congress workers, the group’s president Raja Warring set off from Dana Mandi towards Singh’s residence but the police detained protesters near mini-secretariat.
At least 100 policemen were been deployed to prevent Congress protesters from reaching Singh’s residence. The police even resorted to a mild lathi charge.SSP, Moga, Charanjit Singh said the protesters were later released at Police Lines.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Raja Warring, also the MLA from Gidderbaha, said, “Tota Singh will not be allowed to address any public gathering and the Congress will continue to gherao him till farmers’ demands are met.”
“The government is saying that the whitefly attack on cotton crop was a natural calamity. No, it was not natural calamity but a manmade calamity. It is not whitefly but ‘Tota (Parrot) fly’. Even during Congress governments in the past, cotton crop was attacked by pests but we ensured that farmers got effective pesticides. This government, for its own profits, has let farmers suffer.”
Warring also demanded Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor Dr B S Dhillon’s resignation and an FIR against both.
“Farmers have committed suicide because their crops failed. Cotton crop failed because this government under leadership of Agriculture Minister Tota Singh and head of an institution like PAU gave them pesticides which failed to work. So, they are responsible for all the suicides that took place for damaged cotton,” he said.