Punjab: Farmer Dies After Police Resort to Lathi-Charge During Protest for Flood Victims

Several farmers who have been marching to Chandigarh from various parts of Punjab and Haryana to hold a protest demonstration on August 22 have been detained.

New Delhi: A 70-year-old farmer died allegedly after he was beaten during a lathi charge by the Punjab Police in Longowal on Monday, August 21. He was with a group of protesting farmers who were heading to Chandigarh in protest demanding compensation for those who suffered badly due to recent floods the state had witnessed.

The deceased, who has been identified as Preetam Singh, died after he “got squeezed between tractor trolley” when the police tried to stop the protesting farmers, according to the police.

Several farmer leaders from Haryana and Punjab were detained by respective state police ahead of a protest in Chandigarh to seek compensation for losses caused by recent floods.

At least 20 people from Haryana and 50 from Punjab have been detained from various districts ahead of the protest on August 22 in Chandigarh, sources told The Wire.

In July, Punjab and Haryana witnessed flooding, which resulted in terrible financial losses to farmers. Since then, farmers’ bodies have been demanding compensation for flood victims. They are seeking compensation of Rs 50,000 per acre for crop loss, Rs 5 lakh for a damaged house, and Rs 10 lakh compensation for a family of a deceased person.

Farmer leaders expressed their dissatisfaction with both the Punjab and Haryana state governments for not providing a “concrete response” on the issue of compensation for flood victims.

‘Location of detained farm leader unknown’

Among the ones arrested was Amarjeet Singh Morhi, the chief of Bhartiya Kisan Union – Shaheed Bhagat Singh (BKU SBS). The Wire spoke with Tejveer Singh, the spokesperson of BKU SBS. Singh said that Morhi “was asked to arrive at the Ambala police station by the Superintendent of Police. Since then, we don’t know where the police have taken our chief”.

In light of the protest on Tuesday, 16 farmer organisations had met at the office of the Director General of Police (DGP), Chandigarh on Sunday. The DGPs of Haryana and Punjab along with CID and Intelligence officers from Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh were also present during the meeting. Notably, the detained leader – Amarjeet Singh Morhi – of the BKU SBS was also present during the meeting at the DGP office.

“Our protest for August 22 was for the compensation of flood victims. Other than that, we had demands regarding increasing the work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, (MGNREGA). Also, in Chandigarh, several criminal cases from the Farmers Protest days haven’t been withdrawn. We wanted to protest in Chandigarh regarding these issues,” Singh said.

‘AAP-BJP working together’

As farmer leaders were detained on Monday, Singh alleged that the arrests were a work of a “joint operation” by the BJP government of Haryana and the AAP government of Punjab.

“They never conducted a joint operation to stop drugs, neither did they conduct one to stop communal violence, but both the states came together to stop a farmers’ protest,” said the spokesperson of BKU SBS.

Despite the crackdown, farmer groups are adamant on protesting for the compensation of flood victims on August 22 in Chandigarh.