Chandigarh, Mar 20 (PTI) Several SAD and BJP leaders and workers, including former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union minister Vijay Sampla, were detained after police prevented them from picketing the Punjab Assembly over farm loan waiver issue.
The call for Assembly gherao was given by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal to protest against the Congress government’s alleged failure in implementing the Rs 90,000 crore farm loan waiver promise.
As the protesting SAD and BJP workers attempted to break the barricades in their bid to move towards the state Assembly, police used water canons and resorted to baton-charge to prevent their attempt.
Some protesters pelted stones at the police. In the melee, some protesters and policemen were injured, the police said, adding many protesters were detained and later released.
Later, Sukhbir Singh Badal condemned the baton-charge by police claiming that the agitators were registering their protest in the “most peaceful and democratic manner”.
“The police resorted to lathicharge without any provocation,” he alleged.
The BJP claimed that Sampla received injuries in his eyes during the protest.
Earlier, Sukhbir Singh Badal and other senior Akali leaders addressed the SAD and BJP workers.
Addressing the protesters, he said the magnitude of the congregation was reflective of the anger of Punjabis against the Congress government and was a severe indictment of its style of governance which had led to “back stabbing of every section of society” by “going back” on its all pre-poll promises.
Announcing that the fight against “oppression and tyranny” would continue, the SAD president said, “We demand implementation of a Rs 90,000 crore loan waiver of all farmers, including loans from nationalised and cooperative banks as well as private money lenders.” Demanding that the loan waiver scheme be extended to farm labourers and Dalits, Sukhbir Singh Badal warned that if this is not done then the SAD and BJP workers would gherao Congress ministers.
He also announced that his party would not allow the government to impose fees on agricultural tubewells.
“We will fight this tooth and nail and not allow the government’s nefarious design to impose bills on agriculture sector succeed,” Sukhbir Singh Badal said.
At the rally, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said that he was ready for any sacrifice, including giving up his life, for the cause of Punjab.
“Many governments have implemented loan waiver schemes. The Congress government can also do it. We provided a relief of Rs 60,000 crore to farmers by reimbursing the state utility for their tubewell bills”, he said.
Asking the farmers not to repay their loans, the former chief minister said, “Amarinder Singh has given you sworn affidavits stating he will repay your debts. Now he must fulfill his promise.” Accusing the Congress government of exploiting not only the farmers, but also the Dalit community, Sampla claimed that even mid-day meals were not being served in government schools and Scheduled Caste students were not getting scholarships.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.