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Monday, January 17, 2022

PM security breach: Who were the protesters who held up Modi’s vehicle in Punjab?

Around 400-500 protesters belonging to Surjit Singh Phool's Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Krantikari group sat on the flyover near village Piareana in the Ghall Khurd tehsil of Ferozepur district.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba , Edited by Explained Desk | Jalandhar |
Updated: January 7, 2022 9:17:51 am
The extraordinary breach of the Prime Minister's security was caused by protesters who had blocked the road ahead. (Photo: ANI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vehicle was stationary for 15-20 minutes on a flyover on the way from Bathinda to Hussainiwala National Martyrs’ Memorial in Ferozepur on Wednesday (January 5) afternoon, after which his cavalcade returned to Bathinda airport.

The extraordinary breach of the Prime Minister’s security was caused by protesters who had blocked the road ahead.

Who was protesting?

Around 400-500 protesters belonging to Surjit Singh Phool’s Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Krantikari group sat on the flyover near village Piareana in the Ghall Khurd tehsil of Ferozepur district.

The BKU Krantikari (Phool) is part of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which spearhead the yearlong protests against the now repealed farm laws at the borders of Delhi. It occupies a position to the far left of the political spectrum that the SKM straddles.

The BKU Krantikari (Phool) is active in 11 districts of Punjab with a sizeable presence in seven districts, nine of which are in the Malwa region, and two in Majha. The union claims to have 25,000-30,000 members across the state.

Why were the farmers protesting?

According to Baldev Singh Zira, general secretary of the BKU Krantikari (Phool), the farmers were sitting on a dharna at three places on Wednesday — on this particular flyover; in Harika with the Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (PKMSC); and in Kulgarhi.

The intention was to stop BJP supporters from reaching the venue of a planned rally that the Prime Minister was scheduled to address in Ferozepur. The rally was ultimately cancelled due to bad weather and rain.

Units of the union were also protesting in their respective district headquarters against the PM’s planned rally.

Did they know the PM would be travelling on this road?

No, said Zira. “We were not aware about his road trip at all. We were there to stop the BJP supporters, and not the Prime Minister, who was supposed to go by helicopter,” Zira said.

The Prime Minister was initially supposed to fly from Bathinda airport, but it was later decided that he should go to Hussainiwala by road.

Zira conceded that the senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Ferozepur Harmandeep Singh had informed the protesters that the PM’s cavalcade would travel by that route.

“But the protesters did not believe him, suspecting that it was a ruse by the police to remove them so that BJP workers and supporters could reach at the rally. Had we known that the PM would actually travel on that road, we would have lifted our dharna,” he said.

Zira said there was a lot of anger among the protesters against the BJP, whose supporters — who had been intially allowed to proceed to the rally venue — had got into scuffles with the farmers.

The PM’s convoy is held up near Talwandi town in Ferozepur on Wednesday.

Was the BKU Krantikari (Phool) the only union that was protesting against the PM’s planned rally?

No, the PKMSC was sitting at five places on highways, and protesting at the district headquarters.

The PKMSC lifted their protests after officials assured them that the PM would meet them on March 15 to discuss the pending demands of the farmers, including MSP for all crops, withdrawal of all cases filed against the farmers during their protest, and compensation and government jobs for the next of kin of farmers who died during the protest.

The largest farm union in the state, the BKU (Ugrahan), too protested at all district headquarters. An estimated 1 lakh union members held up signs saying “Go Back Modi”, and burnt effigies of the PM at various places.

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