Demanding that the state government clear their dues of over Rs200 crore and hike the State Assured Price (SAP) of sugarcane farmers from Rs310 a quintal to Rs358, farmers of 32 unions blocked the Jalandhar-Phagwara stretch of the national highway and rail tracks on Friday. Unions have also claimed that their protest will continue indefinitely.
The protest started from Dhanowali village of Jalandhar district and by the late afternoon, the unions had also blocked the rail track near Dhanowali between Jalandhar - Chaheru section. They blocked the movement of trains on the Ludhiana Amritsar and Ludhiana-Jammu tracks. The Ferozepur railway division said movement of 31 trains were hit, with six being cancelled and nine diverted.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (Doaba) president Manjit Singh Rai and general secretary, Satnam Singh Sahni, said, “The Capt government did not increase even a single penny for sugarcane crop over the past four years. We will continue to block the national highway and the tracks till the time the state government agrees to meet our demands.”
On the national highway that connects major cities of Punjab and Jammu, traffic was badly hit, with the police resorting to diversions. “We have conveyed to the CM Capt Amarinder Singh and the cane commissioner of the state to hold meeting with us at the earliest,” said a farm leader.
Later in the day, Jalandhar deputy commissioner Ghanshyam Thori, police commissioner Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, and SSP Naveen Singla met farmers near Paragpur on the national highway itself.
Then DC told the farmers that the state government had already increased the sugarcane crop SAP from Rs310 to Rs325; farmers, however, remained adamant on their demand for a higher increase. Farm leader Sahni said, “The Punjab government has forced farmers to block the national highway, which affects the common man. We are also helpless as the state government has left us with no other option.”