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Police in AAP-led Punjab lathi charges farmers: Here are their demands and how Arvind Kejriwal had supported farmers’ protest against farm laws

It's important to note that the Aam Aadmi Party and its supremo Arvind Kejriwal had extended support to the farmers who had staged a severe protest against the three farm laws introduced by the Centre in the year 2020.

On Wednesday, the Punjab Police officials imposed a lathi charge on the farmers and labour union workers who staged massive protests outside the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann in Sangrur. The farmers and workers held silent protests under the banner of Sanjha Mazdoor Morcha, a joint front of eight labour unions on the highway in the city over various demands when the baton charge took place.

What are the demands of the protesting farmers

According to the reports, farmers protested seeking a minimum pay increase of Rs 700 under ‘The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act’ (MGNREGA), 33 per cent participation for Dalits in local cooperative organizations, and improvements to land acquisition relief.

Farmers also sought compensation for the deaths of their livestock as a result of lumpy skin disease, as well as payment for damaged crops and the cancellation of FIRs for burning agricultural residues. Many of the protesting farmers were also detained by the Police who imposed a lathi charge to disperse the crowd from outside the residence of Mann.

Earlier, while announcing the protests of November 30, Zora Singh Nasrali, president of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU) which is a part of Sanjha Mazdoor Morcha had said, “We had a few meetings with CM Bhagwant Mann, finance minister Harpal Singh Cheema and bureaucrats in the past but our last meeting with Mann was scheduled for October 3 but it was called off. And after that, no date for the meeting was announced. Officials gave us assurance but not in writing. Hence, we have no other choice but to protest outside the CM’s house.”

Political reactions to Punjab Police lathicharging farmers

Shiromani Akali Dal’s Maheshinder Singh Grewal took cognizance of the incident and condemned the police action on the protesting farmers. “This lathi-charge is unfortunate. It is the hypocrisy of AAP,” he said. BJP’s Manjnder Singh Sirsa also chastised the AAP government and accused Delhi CM and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal of using money from Punjab in the Gujarat Assembly elections.

“Kejriwal showed his true form by lathi-charging Punjab farmers sitting on dharna outside CM Bhagwant Mann’s house. Instead of giving the farmers their rights, Kejriwal is weakening Punjab by investing all the money of Punjab in promoting Gujarat. Punjabis will give a befitting reply to this injustice of Kejriwal,” he said.

The incident is said to have happened when Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann are engaged in campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly Elections. Meanwhile, the Punjab Police has denied the claims that they had imposed a lathi charge upon the protesting farmers. “No lathicharge was done, and the protest is going on peacefully. An aggressive faction of protesters indulged in a scuffle, which was later controlled by the police. We have taken cognizance of their demands,” SSP Sangrur said on December 1.

It’s important to note that the Aam Aadmi Party and its supremo Arvind Kejriwal had extended support to the farmers who had staged a severe protest against the three farm laws introduced by the Centre in the year 2020. “Till these three dark laws are not rolled back, the farmers will continue their protest, and the AAP stands in support with them,” the party’s Punjab in-charge and Tilak Nagar MLA Jarnail Singh had said.

Also, Kejriwal had congratulated and supported the farmers from Punjab who had led the agitation. “It was the longest non-violent movement. The ruling party (BJP) did everything to instigate them. They faced abuses and were termed as terrorists, Khalistani, and agents of China and Pakistan. Water cannon was used, and nails were used to stop them but they overcome it all. This movement enhanced the confidence of people in a democracy that was shaken recently,” he had said after PM Modi announced that the laws would be repealed on November 26, 2021.

Recently in March this year, the Kejriwal Government approved the dismissal of 17 cases filed by the Delhi Police against farmers during last year’s anti-farm law demonstrations, including one involving violence at the Red Fort on Republic Day.

In the current case, the farmers who led the protest seeking a minimum pay increase of Rs 700 under MGNREGA, 33 percent participation for Dalits in local cooperative organizations, improvements to land acquisition relief, compensation for the deaths of their livestock as a result of lumpy skin disease and the cancellation of FIRs for burning agricultural residues, were lathi-charged by the Punjab Police. The Punjab Police denied the claims and said that no lathi charge was imposed and that the Police were attempting to control the crowd.

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