A farmer leader said they do not want any confrontation with the state government, but they will have to break the barriers and move towards Chandigarh if their issues were not resolved.
A heavy contingent of police was deployed at the Chandigarh-Mohali border in the wake of several farmer bodies’ call for an indefinite protest in the Union Territory over their demands.
The Mohali police put up barricades and tippers, and rolled out water cannons to prevent protesting farmers from entering Chandigarh. The Chandigarh police too made similar security arrangements.
Several farmer unions had given a call for an indefinite protest in Chandigarh on the lines of the year-long agitation at the Delhi borders against the Centre’s three farm laws which were repealed in response to the protests.
Among their various demands, farmers want a Rs 500 bonus on each quintal of wheat as their yield has dropped and shrivelled because of unprecedented heatwave conditions.
They are also against the Punjab government’s decision to allow paddy sowing in a staggered manner from June 18 to lessen the electricity burden and conserve underground water.
The protesters, however, want that the government allow them to sow paddy from June 10. They also want a notification issued for the minimum support price for maize and moong.
Mohali, Punjab | We’ve started a ‘Morcha’ like Delhi and will continue until our various demands are met including… https://t.co/ibz4K5FeLo
— ANI (@ANI) 1652795813000
They are also demanding the government lower the charges on the extension of electricity load from Rs 4,800 to Rs 1,200 and release of outstanding sugarcane payment. The protesters are also against the installation of smart electricity meters.
Carrying ration, beds, fans, coolers, utensils, cooking gas cylinders and other items, farmers from across Punjab assembled at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali.
The protesting farmers said they had got a message from the Punjab government for a meeting. But they wanted to meet Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, saying they were not hopeful of getting their issues redressed by meeting a government official.
Mann is learnt to have gone to Delhi.
Beginning their march from Gurdwara Amb Sahib, the protesting farmers broke the first layer of barricades as they moved towards the other barriers put up by the Mohali Police near the Chandigarh-Mohali border.
But farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal urged the protesters not to break the second layer of barricades and instead begin protest there peacefully.
“Moving ahead (by breaking barricades) is not a big thing for you. But we will sit here in a peaceful manner,” Dallewal said. “We will hold a protest here… It is like the agitation in Delhi.”
Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) General Secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal said, “We will win this protest.”
Another farmer leader said they do want any confrontation with the state government but will head towards Chandigarh on Wednesday by breaking the barriers if their issues were not resolved.
After being stopped by the Mohali Police, farmers squatted there while parking their vehicles on the middle of the road in Mohali. Some of them even started to make tea there.
The police had to divert traffic on the Chandigarh-Mohali road near the YPS Chowk to alternative routes.
AAP’s Punjab unit chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang said the state government is committed to the welfare of farmers and it will address their genuine demands.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Inspector General of Police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar had met the farmer leaders.