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Punjab Farmers Stopped From Entering Chandigarh, Sit on Protest Near Border

Several Punjab-based farmer bodies had called for an indefinite strike in Chandigarh for their demands to be met.

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Farmers from Punjab sat on protest near the Chandigarh-Mohali border on Tuesday, 17 May, after they were stopped from going to the state's capital to urge the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to meet their demands, which include wheat bonuses and paddy sowing from 10 June onwards.

The Mohali Police put up barricades and set up water canons to prevent the protesters from moving forward. The security arrangements were followed by the Chandigarh Police as well, PTI reported.

After being stopped from proceeding, one of the farmer leaders said that while they did not want any confrontation with the government, they would break the barriers and move towards Chandigarh if their demands were not met.

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This comes amid a call for an indefinite strike in Chandigarh by several farmer bodies, similar to the year-long agitation held in Delhi against the three farm laws that were promulgated by the Centre.

The Farmers' Demands

The farmers are demanding a bonus of Rs 500 on each quintal of wheat produced. This comes amid a shortfall in the production of wheat due to severe heatwaves in the region.

They are also protesting against the Punjab government's decision to permit the sowing of paddy in a staggered manner from 18 June onwards to reduce the burden of electricity supply and save underground water.

Along with their demand to sow paddy from 10 June, the farmers have also called for a notification to be issued to obtain the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of moong and maize.

The farmer bodies further called for lowering the amount charged by the government on the extension of electricity load from Rs 4,800 to Rs 1,200, as per PTI.

They are also demanding the release of their outstanding payment on sugarcane supply, and protesting against the installation of smart electricity meters.

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Demand to Meet Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann

The farmers, who came from different parts of Punjab, carried rations, beds, coolers, fans, utensils, and cylinders with them, and assembled at Mohali's Gurudwara Amb Sahib.

Farmer leaders said the government had told them that their representatives would hold a meeting with them, but they insisted on meeting Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann directly, who is currently said to be in Delhi.

As they started their march from the gurudwara, the farmers broke the first line of barricades while moving forward. However, farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal asked protestors to not break the second line of barriers, and conduct their protest peacefully instead.

"Moving ahead (by breaking barricades) is not a big thing for you. But we will sit here in a peaceful manner," Dallewal said. He also added that the farmers had a charter of 15 demands.

Meanwhile, Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) General Secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal said that the agitation was just like the one conducted in Delhi, and that they would certainly win the battle.

After being stopped in their tracks by the police, several farmers parked their vehicles in the middle of the road and started preparing tea.

The police, meanwhile, diverted traffic on the Chandigarh-Mohali road due to the protest. Earlier, Deputy Inspector General of Police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar had also conducted a meeting with the farmer leaders.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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