As Farmer Protest Escalates, Authorities Clear Jalandhar-Pathankot Highway, took leaders into custody

As Farmer Protest Escalates Authorities Clear Jalandhar-Pathankot Highway took leaders into custody

Sources say police had information that farmers could march towards Gurdaspur to obstruct AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and CM Bhagwant Mann’s rally.

Protesting farmers and police came face to face in Mukerian on Saturday when the latter used force to lift the dharna from the Jalandhar-Pathankot highway and detained a large number of farmer leaders and activists. The farmers have been demonstrating in front of the Mukerian sugar mill since Friday to press for their demands.

The district administration had appealed the protesters to lift the blockade on Friday itself but the farmer leaders remained adamant, stating they would continue with the sit-in till all sugar mills turned operational and the state agreed price (SAP) of sugarcane was raised to ₹450 a quintal. The farmer leaders had a heated argument with senior superintendent of police (SSP) Surender Lamba over the issue.

On Saturday, many of these leaders, including Amarjit Singh Rara, Kamalpreet Singh Kaki, Gurpartap Singh and Satnam Singh Baghrian, were taken in custody in the presence of the SSP. They were ferried in buses to an undisclosed place. During the melee, Satnam Singh’s turban fell off. He said the government would have to pay the price of the insult it inflicted on farmers.

Sources said the police had got information that the farmers could march towards Gurdaspur to obstruct the rally of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal and chief minister Bhagwant Mann whereas the farmer leaders said, they had no such plans but were only preparing to block the other side of the road that they had vacated on Friday night.

“We will not tolerate this high-handedness. The police should release the arrested leaders and leave them at the dharna site. We are here to press for our demands and it is our right,” woman leader Akwinder Kaur said.

Other speakers also spoke of intensifying the agitation. They raised slogans against the AAP government and threatened to escalate the fight. The dharna was going on till the time of filing of this report.

The SSP was not available for comment. Mukerian deputy superintendent of police Kulwinder Singh Virk, however, said that the police acted to clear the road as people were getting harassed. “The farmers had parked their tractor-trolleys on the national highway, which was affecting traffic movement. We cleared the route so that commuters are not hassled,” he added.

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