Punjab: Government calls protesting farmer leaders for meeting with CM Bhagwant Mann
The Punjab government has called farmer union leaders for a meeting here on Friday with Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann as highway blockade in Jalandhar by the farmers who are demanding an increase in sugarcane prices entered the fourth day.
Farmers are staging a 'dharna' in the middle of the Jalandhar-Phagwara section of the highway which has also affected traffic between Jalandhar and Delhi.
On Thursday, the farmers also blocked a section of the railway track near Dhanowali village in Jalandhar, which affected the train movement too, but on Friday they decided to lift the blockade from the rail track after receiving a call of meeting with the chief minister. However, the road blockade continues.
The farmers, who are demanding an increase in the prices of sugarcane from Rs 380 per quintal to Rs 450 per quintal, have put up a tent in the middle of the road and are spending the night on the highway.
They are also demanding the resumption of sugar mills' operations for the crushing of cane.
Farmers led by Bharti Kisan Union (Doaba) have been staging the protest.
"We have received a call for a meeting with the chief minister. Further course of action regarding our protest will depend on the meeting,'s outcome, " BKU (Doaba) leader Manjit Rai, who was headed for the meeting with other farmer union leaders, told PTI.
According to farmer union leaders in Jalandhar, they have been called for a meeting with the chief minister this afternoon.
They said that on Thursday evening senior officials from the police and civil administration held talks with them.
Farmer leader Balwinder Singh had earlier said that they were forced to come out on roads by the state government which has still not announced the sugarcane prices, nor has started the cane crushing.
They said that the government had promised to resolve their issues on November 16 in a meeting but cancelled it a day before.
Farmers under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha blocked the Jalandhar-Phagwara section of the Jalandhar-New Delhi National Highway near Dhanowali village for an "indefinite period" on Tuesday.
The protest in Jalandhar has affected the movement of vehicles from Jammu, Pathankot, and Amritsar via Jalandhar towards Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Nawanshahr, and Delhi.
With police diverting traffic towards alternative roads, the commuters had a harrowing time crossing the part of the district.
In a sharp attack against farmers squatting on roads, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had on Wednesday asked the farm unions not to turn people against themselves.
If the farmers do not shun the practice of blocking roads every time their demands are not met, a day will come when people will stop sympathising with them, Mann had said.
The chief minister also said the doors of his office and residence are always open for dialogue as he pulled farmers up for "irresponsible attitude."