Protesting unions break down barricades in Sangrur settlement, Cheema calls them for talks

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A day after seven agricultural unions started a dharna outside the Dreamland housing colony where Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann has a home, union leaders secured a meeting with state finance minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Wednesday afternoon in his office in Chandigarh.

Mukesh Malaud, chairman of the Zamin Prapati Sangrash committee, said they only got the call to meet the finance minister after they tried to break into the settlement’s main gate after breaking down barricades. “On Monday, we started our dharna on the main highway, the Sangrur-Patiala road, which is opposite the Dreamland settlement. However, until Tuesday afternoon when no one came to hear us, we decided to go through the front door and a few of us even broke through the barricades to reach near the front door of the colony. After that, an additional deputy commissioner and deputy prefect came to talk to us. The SDM announced from the stage that sanjha morcha Punjab has been called for a meeting with Cheema on Wednesday. Our dharna will continue on the main road and further actions will be planned based on the outcome of the meeting,” he said.

Krishan Chauhan, head of the Punjab state Mazdoor Sabha, said all the protesters collected donations to hold the dharna outside the CM house. “The money was used to organize langars and other arrangements. We are here as representations and our workers have been holding meetings in the villages for several days,” he said.

Mazdoor unions demanded Rs 700 a day wage for NREGA, compensation for farm workers for last year’s damaged cotton crop, full loan waiver from micro-finance companies and some other demands already addressed to the government.

Zora Singh Nasrali, President of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, said that although we had planned to hold the dharna until September 14, we have now decided to lift the dharna and wait for the outcome of the meeting.

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