Clarifying its stand, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha has said the protesting farmer bodies had no programme to obstruct Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s event at Ferozepur in Punjab.
In a “major security lapse”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy was stranded on a flyover due to a blockade by protesters in Ferozepur on Wednesday after which he returned from poll-bound Punjab without attending any event, including a rally.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of various farmer outfits, said ten farmer organisations affiliated to it had announced a symbolic protest for the arrest of Union minister Ajay Mishra over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and other outstanding demands in the wake of the prime minister’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, the farmers’ body said.
“There was no programme to stop the prime minister’s visit or obstruct his visit,” SKM said in a statement.
Stating that peaceful protests were held at district and tehsil headquarters on January 5, it maintained 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.
“Of these, was the flyover of Pyarayana 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 flags 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.
The SKM added that it is a matter of great regret that to “cover up” the failure of his rally, Modi tried to “malign” both the state of Punjab and the farmers’ movement by using the pretext of “somehow his life was saved”.
When Modi’s convoy had reached near village Piareana on Ferozepur-Moga road on Wednesday, around 30 km 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 had said around 100 farmers suddenly arrived on the spot and blocked the road.
A decision was taken to take the prime minister’s convoy back to Bathinda airport after protestors started gathering on the other side of the flyover which could pose a huge security risk, he had said.