Protesting Punjab farmers issue ultimatum to Mann’s government

Farmers in Punjab took part in a protest near the Chandigarh-Mohali border on Tuesday after they were prevented from traveling to the state capital to pressure the AAP government with various demands including a bounty on wheat and start of paddy sowing from 10 June.

In an ultimatum to the Punjab government, Farmer Leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said if Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann did not hold a meeting with the protesters by tomorrow to redress their grievances, they would head to Chandigarh breaking the barricades.

A large contingent of police has been deployed to the Chandigarh-Mohali border following calls by several farmers’ organizations for an indefinite protest in the union territory over their demands.

Mohali police erected barricades and dumpsters and deployed water cannons to prevent protesting farmers from entering Chandigarh. Chandigarh Police have also made similar security arrangements.

“This is the beginning of our struggle in Punjab and it will continue until our demands are met. Only 25% of farmers have come here so far. Others will come tomorrow. It’s a do or die battle,” said one farmer leader.

Several farmers’ unions had called for an indefinite protest in Chandigarh modeled on the year-long agitation at Delhi’s borders against the Centre’s three farm laws which were repealed in response to the protests.

The call for unlimited demonstration was launched by peasant organizations a few days ago.

Among their various demands, the farmers want a bonus of Rs 500 on every quintal of wheat as their yield has dropped and shrunk due to unprecedented heatwave conditions.

They are also against the Punjab government’s decision to allow paddy sowing in a staggered manner from June 18 to reduce electricity consumption and conserve groundwater.

The protesters want the government to allow them to sow paddy from June 10. They also want a notification to be issued for the minimum support price for maize and moong.

They are also asking the government to reduce charges on extension of electric load from Rs 4,800 to Rs 1,200, 10 to 12 hours of power supply and release of unpaid sugar cane payment. Protesters also oppose the installation of smart electricity meters.

Carrying rations, beds, fans, coolers, utensils, cooking gas cylinders and other items, farmers from across Punjab gathered at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali.

The protesting farmers said they received a message from the Punjab government for a meeting.

Starting their march from Gurdwara Amb Sahib, the protesting farmers broke through the first layer of barricades as they made their way towards the other barriers erected by the Mohali police near the Chandigarh-Mohali border.

AAP Punjab Unit Chief Spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang said the state government is committed to the welfare of the farmers and will meet their genuine demands .

Earlier in the day, Deputy Inspector General of Police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar had met with the agricultural leaders.

With NDTV inputs

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