Irate Punjab farmers heckle Bhundar, Mann
Farmers today did not allow politicians to gain any mileage out of their ongoing agitation against the state government.
Rajya Sabha Member Balwinder Singh Bhundar and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Vice-Chancellor BS Dhillon were at the receiving end as farmers threw pamphlets and packets of seeds at them at the varsity’s regional centre. Both were rushed out of the centre under the police protection.
Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, too, faced the heat when farmers agitating on GT Road did not allow him to share the stage, saying “we will not allow any leader to make personal gains here. Anyone interested can come and join the farmers on the mat in front of the stage”.
Reacting strongly to Dhillon’s recent remarks blaming farmers for their crop loss, agitating farmers interrupted his speech with sloganeering. Even Bhundar’s intervention couldn’t pacify the farmers. Both of them were virtually booed off the venue under a heavy security cover.
Eight farmers’ unions, which are protesting jointly, did not give any space to Mann today. Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Ekta-Ugrahan local president Shingara Singh Mann said: “Bhagwant Mann did not even come to meet us here. He was interested only in taking the centre stage which we did not allow”.
The Sangrur MP, however, looked unfazed by the farmers’ response and batted for their cause. “By not paying any heed to the plight of farmers and by not giving them good prices for their crop, the state government is allowing the private sector to slowly take over their farmlands,” he said. “Farmers will be forced to give their land to private players for fixed remuneration as they are unable to sustain themselves under the current set up as is reflected in suicides," he added.
BKU Dakaunda, BKU Ugrahan, BKU Krantikari, BKU Kirti Kisan Union, Punjab Kisan Union, Jamhuri Kisan Sabha and two other sangarsh committees are holding a joint protest. Thousands of farmers from all over the region have been camping in the city for the past five days, demanding a compensation of at least Rs 40,000 per acre for the loss due to the whitefly attack and Rs 20,000 to all those labourer families who had got unemployed due to the crop damage.