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Ludhiana: Farmers gherao BJP Mahila Morcha meeting venue, clash averted

Sources said that the BJP leaders were blocked inside the hotel for several hours and not allowed to leave by the agitating farmers, who have been protesting against three contentious farm laws passed by the Parliament in September last year.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: August 4, 2021 5:25:20 pm
A large number of farmers are attending a mahapanchayat organised by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) at the Government Inter College ground in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh.(Representational Image)

Armed BJP workers almost clashed with protesting farmers in Ludhiana on Tuesday, during a meeting of the party at a city hotel to discuss strategy for the upcoming 2022 Punjab Assembly polls.

On Tuesday, dozens of farmers turned up to protest outside a hotel where the state executive leaders of the BJP, including its Mahila Morcha members, had gathered at Hotel Nagpal Regency to discuss their poll strategy for the upcoming Punjab assembly elections. Although a heavy police presence ensured that the protesting farmers got nowhere close to the hotel, at one point during the day, some BJP workers at the meeting, armed with wooden sticks in their hands, almost confronted the protesting farmers. The situation was soon brought under control by the police, with both parties then resorting to raising slogans against each other.

Prodded about the wooden sticks, Pushpinder Singal, president of BJP’s Ludhiana unit, chose to downplay the incident. “I am not aware of any of BJP workers holding wooden sticks in their hands,” he said. Another BJP leader, however on the condition of anonymity, revealed that due to repeated attacks on them, they did carry wooden sticks as a ‘precautionary measure’.

Sources said that the BJP leaders were blocked inside the hotel for several hours and not allowed to leave by the agitating farmers, who have been protesting against three contentious farm laws passed by the Parliament in September last year. Tuesday’s protest was part of the farmer’s agenda to boycott BJP leaders in the state till the time the three contentious laws are not repealed.

Punjab BJP Mahila Morcha president Mona Jaiswal said that Tuesday’s meeting was held at Hotel Nagpal Regency of the city and was attended by Sukhpreet Kaur Sindhu, the party’s national general secretary (Mahila Morcha) BJP state president, Ashwani Sharma, organisational secretary, Dinesh Kumar, and BJP Ludhiana president, Pushpinder Singal, were also present during Tuesday’s meeting.

“As soon as the meeting started, we got the news that some farmers, under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Ugrahan, had gathered outside to protest,” Jaiswal claimed.

The farmers, on the other hand, said that they wanted no confrontation and had gathered to protest peacefully.

Bharpur Singh, president of BKU Ugrahan’s Threeke village’s unit, said, “We wanted to go near the hotel and protest. However, we were stopped by the police. So instead, we staged a protest a little distance away from the hotel. We raised slogans against the anti-farmer BJP government at the Centre and told the BJP leaders that they will not be allowed to organise any meeting till the time they accepted all our demands.”

Sukhpreet Sidhu said,” Under PM Narendra Modi’s Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, over 2673 crore has been sent to the accounts of more than 23.33 lakh farmers. Subsidy on fertiliser is also being given while the government has purchased a total of 405 lakh metric tonne of wheat, out of which 12 lakh metric tonne is from Punjab and farmers have also been paid money for the same.”

Sources said that though Sindhu left in a hushed manner soon after, the other office bearers were not allowed to leave the hotel till 6pm.

Charan Singh Noorpura, a protesting farmer, said, “We have nothing personal against the BJP leaders. But we won’t let them organise any public meetings till the time the farm laws are repealed. Hence, we peacefully protested and said nothing to any of them. They kept standing near the hotel gate for a while and saw us protesting, but did not approach us. So, we also did not say anything, except for raising slogans against them.”

Singal, president of BJP’s Ludhiana unit, said, “They created trouble for us outside the hotel. Hence, we didn’t move out till the time they hadn’t vacated the place. Our state president also left after the protesters lifted the dharna. More than 200 policemen were present at the spot, but they took no action against the protesters. We call this a police-sponsored protest. We have not lodged a police complaint as we saw the policemen at the spot protecting the agitators. What justice we can expect from them.”

Bharpur Singh, from BKU Ugrahan, said, “We will now protest against BJP leaders even in urban areas.”
Jeevan Gupta, general secretary of Punjab BJP, said, ” Some farmers have been misguided and are not able to see the benefits [of the new farm laws]. Three days ago, the Adani group closed their logistics park in Kila Raipur village and nearly 400 people lost their jobs. They did so because farmers were protesting outside the main gate. The farmers need to see that their protest is starting to have repercussions for the common man for no fault of theirs.”

He added, “We have sent repeated messages to farmers that if they are unhappy about the new laws, then they should come out with a policy of their own so that we can do something for their welfare. But they just seem to have a one-point agenda — repealing of the farm laws. This cannot be done as laws once passed are not taken back. We, however, are open to making amendments in the new laws.”

Meanwhile, members of BJP’s Mahila Morcha revealed that they did manage to complete their meeting inside the hotel, even though protesters were sitting outside. The meeting was aimed at how to increase women’s participation in the Vidhan Sabha polls and how Mahila Morcha can start moving out in the field to meet the voters.

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