Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann slammed the farmers' unions on Friday for frequently staging protests by blocking roads in Punjab to get their demands fulfilled, saying the common people were facing inconvenience.
Mann said blocking roads by holding sit-ins had become a "trend" during the past few days, taking on the farmers' unions virtually head-on in an uncommon thing for any chief minister of the agrarian state.
He appealed to the farmers' bodies to stage sit-ins, if they had to, near the houses of ministers and legislators or the deputy commissioner's office, but "do not disturb the common people" by blocking the highways and other roads.
Sit-ins have been staged by different farmer unions during the past few days across the state, especially in Faridkot, Amritsar, Patiala and Bathinda districts.
The demands include more compensation for the land acquired for national highway projects and for crop damage due to inclement weather and pest attack, cancellation of cases against some farmers and bonus for wheat yield loss.
"I'm not their opponent, but if they stop buses and block roads like this, they will also lose public sympathy," he said at a news conference after a cabinet meeting in Chandigarh.
During the past seven months, Mann said, the AAP government took many decisions for the farmers' welfare, met most of their demands and some others were in process.
The CM underscored that the government held several meetings with the farmers' organisations, claiming that such a number of talks were not held during the past 10 years.
"First, they hold a sit-in to seek a meeting with the government. After this, another sit-in is held when the talks are held. Yet another is staged to demand issuing of notification," he said, making it clear that the government cannot be held to ransom like this.
"I've also come to know that some farmers' outfits only want to stage a sit-in to make their presence felt," Mann claimed.
"They also have to show that they incurred expenses and for that, they have to collect funds from different sources."
In the wake of the statement, the Bharti Kisan Union (Sidhupur) decided to intensify its protest in Amritsar and another farmers' outfit did the same in Bathinda.
In Amritsar, farmers have been blocking the Kathunangal toll plaza, which is an important link to connect Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
"I come from a farmer family also. I have full sympathy with them and want them to get their due," the CM said. "But to say we had given a notice two days before (for holding a sit-in), this behaviour is not right".
He said staging a demonstration in a peaceful manner is everyone's democratic right, but the government should also be given time to meet the demands.
Mann requested the farmers' bodies not to hold sit-ins by blocking roads as people were facing problems.
"I hope they will pay heed to my appeal," he said.