Thousands of farmers arrested as Punjab police, Haryana cops stop Chandigarh protest march

In twin statewide crackdowns, Punjab and Haryana police preemptively arrested farmers across the states ahead of a planned demonstration demanding flood relief

Farmers in both the states have been demanding financial packages for the flood-affected farmers (photo: IANS)
Farmers in both the states have been demanding financial packages for the flood-affected farmers (photo: IANS)

NH Political Bureau

Thousands of farmers belonging to 16 different farmers’ unions have been arrested by the Punjab and Haryana police on Monday, 21 August.

The farmers were marching to Chandigarh to demand financial compensation packages for flood damages to crops and homes.

However, launching a statewide crackdown, the Punjab police stopped and arrested the farmers' out in processions in several parts of the state, as did the Haryana police in their own state.

The demonstration by the farmers' unions, led by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC), was planned as a peaceful protest directed at the state governments of AAP-ruled Punjab and BJP-ruled Haryana, as well as the Central government, over not receiving timely and adequate flood relief.

In response to the crackdown, those still free are now gathering at toll plazas to blockade highways.

The KMSC-led unions have demanded Rs 50,000 per acre as compensation to flood-hit farmers from the state governments, and a further compensation of Rs 10 lakh for those whose pucca houses have been damaged by the flood waters.

The unions have also demanded Rs 50,000 crore from the Central government in order to develop a permanent solution to the floods.

Even now, the Bhakra and Pongal dams are full to overflowing, with over a month of the monsoons ahead. The Bhakra Beas Management Board has faced considerable criticism over the last two months over the flooding and their failure to proactively take steps to gradually release the water ahead of the monsoons to prepare for the expected influx from the rains and rain-fed rivers.

The result has been over 40 deaths and over 1,600 people displaced and living in relief camps.

India’s largest farmers’ union, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), has expressed their solidarity with their brethren in Punjab and Haryana and condemned the preventive arrests of the various union leaders.

According to report in the Tribune, negotiations between senior officers of the Chandigarh and Punjab Police and the union leaders, led by Sarvan Singh Pandher of the KMSC, have failed.

The union leaders reportedly also met Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit on Sunday night, 20 August. He assured them that he would ask the officers of both Punjab and Haryana to hear their grievances.

Notably, Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party government—which is often at the loggerheads with the Central government—refused to ‘beg’ before the Modi government. The Punjab government has enough money in the State Disaster Relief Fund and will compensate each and every flood-affected farmer, chief minister Bhagwant Mann has said.

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Published: 21 Aug 2023, 3:48 PM