The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – a coalition of more than 40 farmers’ unions – on Thursday said the protesting farmers had no plan to obstruct Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s event at Ferozepur in Punjab.
In a “major security lapse”, Modi’s convoy was stranded on a flyover due to a blockade by protesters in Ferozepur on Wednesday, after which the PM returned from poll-bound Punjab without attending any event, including a rally.
The SKM said 10 farmer organisations affiliated to it had announced a symbolic protest for the arrest of Union minister Ajay Mishra over the Lakhimpur incident, in which his son is an accused, and other demands in the wake of the PM’s visit.
Various programmes of protests and effigy burning were announced at village-level across Punjab on January 2 and at district and tehsil headquarters on January 5, it said. There was no programme to obstruct Modi’s visit, the SKM said.
The SKM said that when some farmers were stopped by police from going to the district headquarters of Ferozepur, they protested by sitting on the road at many places. One place was the flyover at Piareana, where the prime minister’s convoy came, stopped and went back. “The farmers protesting there had no concrete information that the convoy was going to pass through. They only got this information from media after Modi’s return,” the statement said.
“It is clear from the video of the occasion that the protesting farmers did not make any effort to go towards the prime minister’s convoy. Only a group with BJP flag and raising ‘Narendra Modi zindabad’ slogan had reached near that convoy. Therefore, the threat to the life of the prime minister seems completely concocted,” it said.
It was a matter of regret that to cover up the failure of his rally, Modi had tried to malign both the state of Punjab and the farmers’ movement, the SKM added.
When Modi’s convoy arrived near Piareana village on Ferozepur-Moga Road on Wednesday, around 30km away from the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, some protestors blocked the road following which the PM’s cavalcade was halted for almost 15-20 minutes on a flyover.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Ferozepur) Inderbir Singh said around 100 farmers suddenly arrived on the spot and blocked the road. A decision was taken to take the prime minister back to Bathinda airport after protestors started gathering on the other side of the flyover, he said.