Indian farmers take to streets over inflation

Chandigarh, July 09 (KMS): Thousands oF farmers hit the streets in various parts of Punjab in response to a call given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) to hold nationwide protests against rising fuel and cooking gas prices.

Farmer unions across Punjab protested for two hours, 10am to noon, by parking their vehicles at the side of the road and raising slogans against the Narendra Modi government. Women protesters too joined in by carrying empty LPG cylinders on their heads and raising anti-Modi slogans.

The farmers also honked the horns of their vehicles for 7-8 minutes to draw the attention of the government towards the rapidly rising inflation.

In Jalandhar, members of Bharatiya Kisan Union-Rajewal, under the leadership of Mandip Singh Samra and Amarjot Singh, parked hundreds of vehicles on the service lanes of Jalandhar-Panipat National Highway from near Ramamandi flyover towards Ludhiana side. Most farmers who had parked their tractor trolleys by the side of the road put up placards on their vehicles reading ‘On Sale’.

The farmers further wrote on the placards that because of the high price of petrol and diesel, they cannot afford to purchase fuel to operate their tractors due to which they were helpless and were being forced to sell these vehicles.

Elsewhere, Kirti Kisan union leaders, Santokh Singh Sandhu and Makhan Singh Kandola, along with hundreds of protesters, also parked their vehicles, motorcycles, and tractors on Nurmahal-Phillaur and Talwan, Mehatpur and Shahkot road.

Dihati Mazdoor Sabha, under the leadership of Baldev Singh Nurpuri, parked vehicles near BMC Chowk, Jalandhar.

Likewise, a large number of women activists reached various protest spots along with empty cylinders and carrying the flags of farmer unions in their hands.

The women activists said that the prices of gas cylinders have already crossed Rs 864 per cylinder, which is out of the reach of the poor. SO, now they had no other option but to return to the traditional methods of cooking on ‘earthen and bricked stoves by using combustible fuel.

In Ludhiana, too, framers gathered in large numbers and parked their vehicles at the side of the roads and raised slogans against the Modi government, and honked the horns of their vehicles.

“This was to let the deaf government hear our voices,” said Jagseer Singh Jhumba, a Bathinda-based farmer.

SKM leaders, who coordinated Thursday’s protests, said that petrol and diesel prices had touched around Rs 100 per litre, which was higher than the cost of aviation fuel per litre. “In 2014, the excise tax on diesel and petrol ranged from Rs 3.56 to Rs 9.48 per litre; in 2021, it went up to Rs 31.80 per litre of diesel and Rs 32.90 per litre for petrol. Similar is the case of LPG gas. Recently, there has been a hike of Rs. 25/ per cylinder. There have been at least 62 hikes i fuel prices in 2021 alone,” said Dr Darshan Pal, SKM leader.

On Ferozepur Road, farmers protested by pulling their vehicles, like tractors, manually with the help of a rope. In Ludhiana’s Kohara and some other areas, some farmers came out bare-chested to protest the steep price rise.

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