The police action on farmers protesting against a liquor factory in Ferozepur’s Zira invited sharp reaction from Opposition parties which hit out at the Aam Aadmi Party government for letting “the situation linger on” for months.
Shiromani Akali Dal president condemned the “lathi charge” on the “farmers and villagers protesting peacefully” against the liquor distillery. “CM Bhagwant Mann should stick to promise of fulfilling demands of protesters instead of using high handed means to suppress their agitation,” Badal said in a tweet.
Incidentally, the liquor factory in question is owned by former SAD MLA Deep Malhotra.
State Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring cautioned the Punjab government to “handle the protest with utmost care” and added that any force used against protesting farmers is unacceptable.
“The entire Malwa region is suffering from the spread of cancer caused by contamination of groundwater. How can farmers allow it to happen again, unless their fears are not duly addressed by scientific examination and reasoning,” Warring said.
“Farmers have genuine apprehensions that the effluents from the distillery may pollute the groundwater, which the government should have addressed in the beginning only. Instead it allowed the situation to linger on,” he added.
Senior BJP leader and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh said, “Using force against protesting farmers is no solution, you need to listen to their concerns”.
The former Chief Minister said, “no doubt there were court orders to open the passage to the distillery, but the police and the local administration could have done it peacefully by negotiating with the farmers”.
Amarinder said that farmers’ apprehensions are based on past experience as the industrial effluents do lead to groundwater contamination leading to various diseases including cancer. “People in that area have suffered from various diseases. When the entire world is becoming environmentally conscious and concerned, our farmers are being beaten up for raising environmental concerns which is not acceptable,” he added.