PUDR condemns the wide scale arrest of peasant leaders and activists belonging to the Committee on Agrarian Crisis, made up of various farmers organisations, in Punjab by the state police over the last one week.
The latest to be arrested include office bearers of BKU- Ekta (Dakonda) such as Balkar Singh, State President, Ram Singh, State Cashier, Satnam Singh, General Secretary (Patiala unit) and Dr Darshan Pal, Organising Secretary (Patiala). While Balkar Singh and Ram Singh were picked on 22nd March , Darshan Pal and Satnam Singh were picked today when they were returning from a rally in Samana (Patiala) which was organised to commemorate the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh. All the peasants leaders who are arrested are charged with Crpc 107/ 151 and sent to various jails in Punjab. However Dr Darshan Pal who is also one of the convenors of the Peoples Democratic Front of India (PDFI) has been detained in Sadar Thana Patiala for further interrogation.
These arrests come in the wake of sustained programme of targeting and delegitimizing democratic activities critical of the State’s functioning and policies regarding hike in electricity charges. On 15 March, the Committee had held a massive rally in Jagraon, where they highlighted the increasing burdens of escalating prices of agricultural inputs on farmers in Punjab.
PUDR demands immediate release of all those arrested and an end to witch-hunting of democratic rights activists by the State.
Asish Gupta & Moushumi Basu