Punjab farmers on Thursday squatted on rail tracks at 30 different locations as part of their indefinite ‘rail roko’ protest against Centre’s agri Acts. Indefinite dharnas also began Thursday at 15 toll plazas where farmers sat on roads and people crossed toll barriers without paying any tax. The day also brought big corporate houses in the direct line of fire as farmers intensified their agitation.
In their speeches at different dharna spots, farmer union leaders spoke about waging war against the “mighty corporate sector” in order to stop their entry into Punjab’s agriculture sector.
Amid protests, Reliance was forced to keep shut over two dozen fuel stations in Barnala, Bathinda, Mansa, Ludhiana, Sangrur and other districts. Apart from that, three Reliance malls also did not open for business in Bhuchho, Bathinda and Amritsar. In Moga and Sangrur, protests happened outside silos of Adani Agri Logistics, which remained shuttered.
“It is a head on fight with these corporates. We will deal with them directly. One needs to have courage to fight, no matter how powerful the opponent. It has happened for the first time that the most powerful brand of India was forced to shut its fuel stations, stores and our dharanas are indefinite,” said Dr Darshan Pal from Krantikari Kisan Union (KKU), Punjab.
Harjinder Singh youth leader of BKU (Ugrahan) said, “Log kehnde ki Modi nahi manuga, mande assi vi nahi (People say that PM Narendra Modi will not agree to our demands, but even we will also not end our struggle).”
BJP leaders face protests
Pakka morchas also kicked off on Thursday outside the houses of BJP leaders Bikramjeet Singh Cheema, president Kisan cell of the Punjab BJP, Mahila wing leader Sunita Garg’s residence at Kotkapura, the house of farmer leader Satwant Punia in Sangrur and Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik’s residence in Amritsar.
“These BJP leaders need to tell us what are the qualities of farm laws. On TV debates, they say that people who are protesting have not even read the Acts. So they need to tell us in detail and in a layman’s language as we farmers are illiterate according to them,” said Rajinder Singh, another Kirti Kisan Union leader.
“They need to tell us whether their workers have read the bills? None of the workers know anything and they too are equally confused as we are,” said Shingara Singh Maan, president of BKU(Ugrahan)’s Bathinda unit.
Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary of BKU (Lakhowal), said: “These dharnas will continue for an indefinite period. BJP leaders have said that they want to meet farmer brothers and sisters. Now, we are sitting outside their houses — come out and meet us. We will close Reliance pumps, Adani’s silos for indefinite time period. Let’s see what will be the consequences and whether they feel this heat or not.”
Dharnas at pvt silos, fuel pumps
A pakka morcha also began outside grain storage silos run by Adani Agri Logistics in village Dagru of Moga. Farmers said that the protest will go on 24×7.
While several photographs of the Moga-based Adani storage facility going around on social media claimed that this silo was established recently ‘overnight’, the fact is that this silo in village Dagru of Moga is more than a decade old and had started operations in 2007.
It was set up by in 2007 in agreement with Food Corporation of India (FCI). The facility is one of the few in Punjab which provides modern storage space for foodgrains procured by FCI so that they do not rot lying outside.
As per company’s website, “The company commissioned India’s first modern grain storage infrastructure for Food Corporation of India in 2007. It commissioned grain silos in Moga (Punjab) and Kaithal (Haryana) to store grains, and established receiving silos in Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Coimbatore, cities connected through Adani’s dedicated railway rakes.’
Sukhdev Singh Khokri Kalan, general secretary, BKU (Ugrahan), said: “As part of our protest against corporates, indefinite protests have started outside Adani silos in Dagru of Moga.”
He added: “We are gheraoing Adani owned silos and Reliance pumps because three new farm laws are directly aimed at benefiting corporate companies and the Modi government is just bothered about their profits. These protests will now go on 24×7 till the three laws are not rolled back.”
“Our protests may have caused a fraction of a dent on their total sale, but we have dared to take them on…Hale sadi zamir jagdi hai (our conscious is still alive ),” said Jagseer Singh, a protester, in Bhuchho.
(WITH INPUTS FROM PTI)
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