‘Mild force’ used on farmers as they march towards Gurdaspur to meet Mann, Kejriwal
Chandigarh, December 2, 2023: As per media reports, Farmers of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (apolitical) in Hoshiarpur were rounded up by police and mild force was allegedly used against them on Saturday when they were marching towards Gurdaspur to meet Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal where the duo addressing to ‘Vikas Kranti’ rally.
According to the news published in The Indian Express, hundreds of farmers under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (apolitical) have been staging a dharna on the highway near Mukerian sugar mill since Friday.
The farmers are upset over a “meagre” hike of Rs 11 per quintal in sugarcane price announced by the state government and were on their way to meet the AAP leaders when they were stopped. Mild force was allegedly used by police to shift their dharna on one side of the Jalandhar-Pathankot National Highway so as to allow movement of traffic.
“On Friday, Mann had announced the hike of Rs 11 per quintal in sugarcane price, saying the new rate of Rs 391 a quintal is the highest in the country. However, farmers said the appreciation in cane price is “too meagre” and termed the government’s move as “betrayal”.
“On Friday we had blocked only one side of the highway, but on Saturday we blocked both sides after farmers were not allowed to march towards Gurdaspur to meet Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal. It would have been fine by us had they even allowed a delegation of a few farmers to meet the AAP leaders,” said Amarjeet Singh Rarhe, president of BKU (Azad), which is part of SKM (apolitical).
“Police used force on us and even detained 16 farmer union leaders, including me. This is nothing but gagging people’s voice. Apart from less price of sugarcane, even Mukerian sugar mill has still to clear Rs 7 crore dues of farmers of the last season while new crushing season has arrived,” he told The Indian Express.
Jagjit Singh Dallewal, president of SKM (apolitical), while speaking to The Indian Express, said, “I am surprised at the political stunt of the Punjab CM when he posted on social media that he is giving Rs 11 per quintal ‘shagun’ (good omen) to farmers. But I need to say that it is the lowest-ever hike in the past three years. In August 2021, the then Punjab CM had hiked Rs 50 per quintal as state agreed price (SAP) for sugarcane followed by Rs 20 per quintal by the AAP government in October 2022 and now only Rs 11 per quintal. He calls it ‘shagun’ and all, but the reality is something else.”
Mann had posted on X: “With an increase of Rs 11, the new rate will be Rs 391 per quintal, which will be the highest in the country.” According to an official statement issued later, quoted by PTI, Mann said in Punjab Rs 11 is considered as a ‘shagun’ so his government has given this gift to the farmers.
Satnam Singh, another farmer union leader, said, “During our meeting with the CM last week, he had assured that Punjab’s increase would be such that it would cross Rs 400 per quintal (sugarcane price). Because of that assurance, the farmers had postponed their protest but he has cheated the farmers.”
Meanwhile, farmers said that the dharna on the highway at Mukerian in Hoshiarpur district will continue for the time being. “AAP which calls itself a party of farmers is now ignoring the farmers by arresting them, using force against them. The Mann government is showing its true colours and people should know it,” said Dallewal.
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU Ugrahan, said, “We strongly condemn the force used against the farmers and their detentions as well. We stand with them and extend all our support to them.”
Reacting over ‘force’ used by cops against farmers, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “I condemn the manner in which farmers protesting peacefully at Mukerian were manhandled and their article of faith insulted – all done at the behest of Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann solely to please Arvind Kejriwal.