For the past three days farmers’ organisations are protesting in Ludhiana against banks over moving against farmers in cheque bounce cases. The dharna site in village Ayali is a kilometer away from zonal branch of the Punjab National Bank, which the farmers had earlier planned to gherao.
“As per our rough estimate, nearly 350 farmers across the state have been issued arrest warrants in cheque bounce cases, while few have even been jailed as well. Bank authorities have themselves admitted that they cannot take blank cheques while giving loans, but they are. We, therefore, had no choice but to stage dharnas,” said Sudagar Singh Ghudani, from Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) while talking with The Indian Express.
He added: “When a farmer is unable to pay back loans, banks try to encash the signed blank cheques of farmers by filling a random amount and when cheque bounces, the farmer is booked under Section 420 IPC. Punjab CM has announced stopping kurki, but now this is the new method they have adopted.”
Nearly 150 protesters stay at the dharna site overnight, while others join again in the morning and leave the venue by evening. The protesters include women.
“Punjab Government had called farmer union leaders for a meeting on February 20 evening on this issue. We have so far kept this dharna a low-key protest. We will decide whether to lift it or escalate our protest after discussing the meeting’s outcome,” said Gurmeet Singh, farmer union leaders.