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Farmers unions extend ‘chakka jam’ call indefinitely in Punjab

Farmers unions extend ‘chakka jam’ call indefinitely in Punjab

Late in the night, the protesters at Bhandari bridge in Amritsar lifted the blockade from one side saying they don’t want to harass the devotees visiting the golden temple

The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) chakka jam (block traffic) call saw widespread protests across Punjab on Wednesday. In Amritsar, hundreds of farmers associated with Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Sidhupur) started an indefinite protest at the Bhandari bridge, one of the main connecting routes between the holy city and the Amritsar-Delhi national highway. Commuters in Mansa also faced hardship after protestors extended the chakka jam indefinitely on Wednesday evening, following the news that the Punjab government had made red entries in the land records of farmers for burning stubble.

However, after facing criticism from commuters, the protesters late in the night announced the lifting of the blockade on the roads leading to the Golden Temple on the Bhandari bridge in Amritsar.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Sidhupur) president Jagjit Singh Dallewal said they don’t want to harass the devotees coming to the Golden Temple and the people of the city “Our protest will continue on one side of the Bhandari bridge until our demands are met,” he said.

The protesters demanded that the Aam Aadmi Party-led Punjab government compensate families of farmers who died during the 2020 agitation against the Centre’s three farm laws besides giving relief to growers who suffered losses to cotton and wheat in pest attacks and enhancing grants for villagers whose lands were being acquired for highway projects. The call for chakka jam was till evening but later the union leaders refused to lift the blockade. The police authorities in Amritsar diverted traffic through alternate routes but the situation worsened after dark.

The protest site in Mansa was also at a crucial traffic intersection and the blockade caused long traffic snarls.

Transport authorities diverted several buses from the busy market areas which further led to chaos in the Mansa district headquarters.

BKU’s Mansa district unit general secretary Makhan Singh Bhaini Bagha said the state government’s decision to make a ‘red entry’ in the records of farmers for burning paddy residue was an immediate cause to extend the protest. “We have been appealing to the state government to implement the promises made to the farm unions. But the Bhagwant Mann-led government has refused to honour its promises,” he said.

He said the offer of a dialogue made by the Mansa administration was turned down as their demands need to be addressed at the state government level.

Farmers also blocked traffic near the police station in Bathinda’s Talwandi Sabo.

Bathinda range inspector general of police (IGP) SPS Parmar said traffic was diverted in Bathinda and Mansa from rural routes. Meanwhile, in Amritsar, farmers blockade at the Bhandari bridge left thousands of commuters harassed. The police had to make other arrangements for the flow of traffic.

Thousands of commuters, including tourists and devotees on their way to Golden Temple, faced tough time.

Union leader Dallewal said on October 6 after a meeting the state government had assured that our demands would be met. “But nothing happened. The state government is forcing us to sit on roads,” he said.

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