Seven activists of farmers’ unions sustained minor injuries after the police baton charged them on Monday night to rescue revenue officials held captive for nine hours by protesting farmers in Punjab’s Muktsar district, the Hindustan Times reported.
Around 3 pm on Monday, district revenue officer Arjinder Singh and his staff were allegedly taken hostage in their office in Lambi village by members of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) and the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union.
After receiving a call from the officials who said they were locked in for nine hours, the police reached the spot and used force to disperse farmers, leaving some of them injured. Nine farm activists have been booked by the police for holding the officials hostage.
Gurpash Singh Singhewal, Muktsar unit chief of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) and some other leaders are undergoing treatment in a government hospital after the incident, the Hindustan Times reported.
The protesting farmers have been demanding compensation from authorities for their cotton crop, which got damaged in a recent pest attack.
Singhewal said that the revenue officials had not responded to their claims of compensation for crop loss despite repeated pleas.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, members of the Punjab Revenue Officers Association went on an indefinite strike, The Tribune reported. The Muktsar DC Office Employees’ Union has gone on a strike as well. Staff of the sub-divisional magistrate offices in Malout and Gidderbaha towns too will be joining the protest
“A naib-tehsildar [district revenue officer], three patwaris and seven other employees were freed in the midnight,” Parmod Singla, an employee at the Malout sub-divisional magistrate’s office was quoted as saying. “We have given an application to register a case against the protesters who held captive the government employees.”
Two of the officials who were held hostage were above 50, Singla added. Meanwhile, the farmers too are continuing their protest to seek compensation for damaged crops.