'Participate in farmers' protests or pay fine'

BATHINDA: Even as protests by farmers in Punjab completed four months on Sunday, panchayats across the state have started asking every household to send at least one member to the protest sites. Some village panchayats are calling upon their residents to join the farm protests on the borders of Delhi or else ‘pay a fine’ in the event of non-participation from a household. Earlier, the task of mobilising protesters was limited to activists of farm organisations.

It was on October 1, 2020, that indefinite protests had started in Punjab, first at railway tracks, toll plazas and business establishments of some corporate houses and then at the residences of some BJP leaders. The protests are going on at 70 to 80 places in Punjab apart from the ones at the Delhi borders.

Panchayats of at least five villages in Malwa region of Punjab passed resolutions that each household has to send at least one male member for a week to the protest sites in Delhi.

Avtar Singh, sarpanch of Kararwala village in Bathinda district, said the entire village had given the call for support in a voice vote. Villagers, he said, decided that a household would have to pay Rs 2,100 to the panchayat if no member goes for the protests.

Karnail Singh, sarpanch of Sivian village in Kotkapura block of Faridkot district, said villagers unanimously decided to send a member from every household for the protest and set a fine of Rs 500 for non-participation. The panchayat of Thikriwal village in Barnala district, native village of freedom fighter Sewa Singh Thikriwal, too passed such a resolution. A 25-member jatha will leave the village regularly, said sarpanch Mohinder Singh.

Likewise, the gram panchayats of Barey village in Budhlada block of Mansa and panchayat of Natheha village in Bathinda district too passed resolutions, asking residents to reach Delhi borders in support of protesting farmers.

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