Gurdaspur DC Himanshu Aggarwal has now designated places where protests can be held. These are Nehru Park and grain market. Similar places have been earmarked in other parts of the district.
But sources say the farm unions are unwilling to hold demonstrations at any other place, except the NH and railway tracks. This may prove to be a tough hurdle to clear for the administration.
This follows incidents like the one on July 29 when two dozen Dutch tourists were stranded at Dhariwal, 6 km from here, for five hours. The busy Amritsar-Pathankot National Highway (NH) was blocked by Christian protesters who were expressing solidarity with the victims of the violence in Manipur. Consequently, the tourists missed their Amritsar-Delhi-Amsterdam flight.
A week later, farm organisations obstructed traffic on the same NH but this time, the site was near Paniyar. Two dozen Srinagar-bound tourists found themselves trapped in the heat. Faced with groups of unsympathetic and unrelenting farmers, they were forced to change their itinerary.
Farm unions, however, are adamant. Their logic is that if they do not block the NH, their voice is not heard. “In the past, we have refrained from sitting in the middle of the NH to show our dissent. But it does not work. Bureaucrats and politicians react only when they get to know that the roads have been blocked,” said Satbir Singh Sultani, district president of the Kirti Kisan Union.
Raj Kumar Pandori, a spokesman of the Punjab Pendu Mazdoor Union said, “The administration lends an ear only when we target the NH and rail tracks.”