Chandigarh, Punjab: Over 25,000 farmers from all over Punjab on Tuesday thronged Chandigarh to hold a protest rally here in protest against unbundling of Punjab State Electricity Board. The protest march which remained peaceful during day but around 4 PM turned violent forcing the police to lathi charge the farmers.
The protesting farmers set on fire dozens of police vehicles and private vehicles parked in sector 17. Though heavy police arrangement was made but police was taken by surprise when a small group of farmers torched the police vehicles. When situation became grim police sung into action and cane charged the farmers. Several farmers were injured. The protesting farmers also pelted stones on police injuring many policemen.
The farmer leaders were given permission to hold the protest rally in the busy sector 17 on the promise that they will remain peaceful, an official spokesman said.
The farmers are opposing unbundling of PSEB fearing that facility of free power supply being given to them would be withdrawn after PSEB is split into four companies, as being proposed by state government. The center government has fixed dead line of September 15 for unbundling of board to fulfill the requirement of Electricity Act 2003. Punjab was given eight extensions in the past but now center has refused to extend the dead line.
Due to heavy turn over farmers from all over the Punjab, the normal life in Chandigarh was hit hard. The traffic remained jam for hours in sector 34-35 and 35-36. The buses and trucks that carried farmers were parked on roads and traffic police was unable to handle the flow of traffic.
The farmer from Punjab had also held a protest march on Monday in front of office of Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) against making recommendation in rise in power rates for agriculture sector. The award pronounced by PSERC on Tuesday however didn’t mention the agriculture sector.
Source: Punjab Newsline