A case of a routine raid to check power theft has turned into a battle of wits between the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and farmers at a village in Barnala with the former going on an indefinite strike demanding that an FIR lodged against its team by the latter be quashed. The villagers, meanwhile, are staging a dharna alleging harassment at the hands of power officials.
It all began early Wednesday when a team of PSPCL engineers reached Bajidke Kalan village on a raid to check power theft cases. The team, led by sub-divisional officer Amandeep Singh and junior engineer Sukhwinder Singh, said that when they went to check the domestic connection meter of farmer, they detected power theft. The farmer, they claimed, attacked them and also tore their register.
The PSPCL got an FIR lodged against the farmer.
On Thursday, however, the police lodged a cross FIR against the PSPCL team on the complaint of farmer on charges of forcibly entering his house and misbehaving with his family.
“This is unacceptable. We went to do our duty. We were attacked and the police is lodging an FIR against us, which is very unfortunate,” Amandeep said.
Following this the PSPCL unit in Barnala launched an indefinite strike demanding that the FIR be withdrawn. The Council of Junior Engineers and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineers Association too extended support to the PSPCL engineers.
The farmers, meanwhile, started a dharna at Bajidke Kalan under the banner of Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan). Farm union leader Kuljeet Singh claimed that the PSPCL team “went in the village in the wee hours and entered houses of many villagers by scaling the walls”. “It is not the question of one farmer. They checked many houses and tried to create panic among the villagers who were still sleeping. They could have come for checking along with village panchayat member or along with a police team. They misbehaved with villagers and hence we want action against them,” Kuljeet Singh said, adding that the farmers do not favour power theft.
PSPCL ties up with French firm
The PSPCL has entered into an agreement with French firm Teleperformance to resolve power supply related complaints of the consumers in Mohali circle. Principal secretary, power, Punjab A Venu Prasad flagged off 90 CHB (Complaint Handling Bikes). Each CHB team will have two expert technicians equipped to handle power complaints.