Farmers have been camping out at the Chandigarh-Mohali border since Tuesday night, demanding that the Bhagwant Mann government acquiesce to their demands on paddy sowing period, MSP for maize, moong and basmati, among others
Farmers carrying ration, beds, fans, coolers, utensils, cooking gas cylinders and on the other side, police erecting barricades and rolling in water cannons to stop their movement.
These aren’t scenes from the farmers protest in Delhi in 2020-2021, but of them staging a new protest at the Chandigarh-Mohali border.
Thousands of farmers started a protest at the Chandigarh-Mohali border, affecting traffic, on Tuesday after they were stopped from heading to the state capital to press the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government with various demands, including a bonus on wheat and beginning paddy sowing from 10 June.
Punjab | Farmers sit on a protest at the Chandigarh-Mohali border against the state government after police stopped them from entering Chandigarh
“Our protest will continue until our 11 demands are fulfilled,” says a farmer pic.twitter.com/AIWGrrKvGJ
— ANI (@ANI) May 17, 2022
We examine why these farmers are protesting, what are their demands and how the Bhagwant Mann government in Punjab is reacting.
Farmers belonging the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha on Tuesday began to march towards Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, in order to draw the attention of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
However, they were stopped by the Mohali Police from heading to the state capital on Tuesday evening. The farmers then squatted and parked their vehicles in the middle of the Chandigarh-Mohali road and spent the night there as well.
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 Wednesday to redress their grievances, they would move towards Chandigarh breaking barricades.
“It is the start of our struggle in Punjab and it will continue till our demands are met. Only 25 per cent of farmers have come here so far. More will come on Wednesday. It is a do or die battle,” a farmer leader was quoted as telling news agency PTI.
On Wednesday morning, several farmer leaders held a meeting at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali and said they would continue their stir.
The farmers’ agitation at the Mohali-Chandigarh border on Wednesday has led to multiple traffic jams, with commuters at the receiving end.
Phase 7 residents were the worst affected as four major roads leading to the YPS crossing were closed for vehicular traffic amid the protest. Authorities were forced to barricade and seal Chandigarh-Mohali borders, Hindustan Times reported.
What do farmers want?
The protesting farmers have a list of demands that they want the Bhagwant Mann-led government to fulfill.
Farmers want a Rs 500 bonus on each quintal of wheat as its yield has dropped and shrivelled because of unprecedented heatwave conditions.
They want the government to allow them to sow paddy from 10 June, instead of in a staggered manner from 18 June as earlier announced by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
Another demand of the farmers is a notification issued for the minimum support price for maize, moong and basmati.
A farmer speaking to news agency ANI also said that electricity prepaid meters shouldn’t be installed.
Moreover, they want the government to lower the charges on the extension of electricity load from Rs 4,800 to Rs 1,200, 10-12 hours of power supply and release of outstanding sugarcane payments.
Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann has termed the protests as “unwarranted and undesirable”, asking them to stop sloganeering and join hands with the state government to stop Punjab’s depleting water table.
The chief minister said his doors are open for talks with farmers but hollow slogans could not break his resolve to check further depletion of groundwater.
“They have a democratic right to hold a dharna but they should tell their issues,” said Mann as per a PTI news report.
He was quoted as telling NDTV that the staggered programme of paddy sowing would not harm the farmers’ interest.
“I am the son of a farmer. I know how it can happen. What is the difference between 18 June and 10,” he said to the news channel.
He asked farmers to support him for a year and asserted that if they suffered losses, then they would be compensated by the state government.
Later, it was announced that Mann would meet the farmers today and both sides would try to resolve the issues.
Bharti Kisan Union (Sidhupur) state president Jagjit Singh Dallewal, however, added that the farmers’ protest at the Chandigarh-Mohali border would continue and they would reveal the outcome of the meeting later.
With inputs from agencies
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