Express news service

CHANDIGARH: Hundreds of farmers gathered near the residence of Punjab CM. Bhagwant Man in Sangrur demanding compensation for their damaged crops and livestock that died due to skin disease, repeal of the mining law and improved land acquisition relief. As they plan a major protest on Thursday, they are dressing up the promises that Delhi Chief Minister and ruling AAP’s national adviser Arvind Kejriwal made to the people of poll-bound Gujarat.

“We have given minimum support price (MSP) to farmers of five crops in Punjab besides compensation for crop damage. We will also ensure adequate electricity supply to farmers,” said an angry villager from Punjab, quoting Kejriwal in Gujarat. “We have none of this at all,” he said.

The protesting farmers led by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Ekta-Ugrahan – the state’s largest farmers’ union – took turns sitting on a dharna on the Patila-Bathinda highway and parking their modified tractor carts along the 3-km stretch of the highway. Only part of the road is left for traffic. These carts have been turned into makeshift homes.

Farmers bring their ration, vegetables, lentils, utensils, gas cylinders and other items and set up makeshift kitchens. A 400-meter section of the road where a platform has been installed is completely blocked.

While farmers living in nearby villages join the protest daily in the morning and return in the evening, those who come from faraway places stay in the makeshift camps and return after a week. BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) chief Yoginder Singh Ugrahan said the financial condition of farmers is deteriorating as successive governments at the Center and the state have failed to help them.

“The state government should release compensation for damaged crops and cattle that died due to lumpy skin. The government should also shut down its own liquor factory in Mansurwal village near Zira for causing pollution and take measures to prevent pollution of various canals by Ludhiana industrialists,” Ugrahan said.

Other demands include scrapping of cases against farmers for burning crop residue and Rs 200 per quintal for managing stubble without burning it. “We are also demanding repeal of the mining law and improvement of land acquisition facility,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, another BKU (Ugrahan) leader.

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