Hours before budget, enraged farmers clash with police in capital

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100 protesters taken into custody

Zahid Chaudhary

Farmers belonging to the Pakistan Kissan Itthehad gathered at D-Chowk in the federal capital’s Red Zone Friday to protest against the government for not providing them due relief and rights.
“Recommendations are presented in the budget but none of them are implemented,” said one of the protesters, adding that, “We work hard getting nothing in return.”
The agitated farmers also pelted stones at policemen who had assembled to stop them from venturing further. Subsequently, the police used tear gas and water canon to disperse the farmers, moving them into Jinnah Avenue.
Over 100 protesters were taken into custody. The protesting farmers who had come from different areas of Punjab requested the police not to arrest them as they said no one would be able to get them out on bail.
Several protesters, as well as police personnel, were injured in the clash. They were taken to Polyclinic hospital for treatment. The farmers strengthen the economy, but they are not facilitated, said opposition leader Khursheed Shah who was also present at the protest site.
The leaders want to make money and invest it in Saudi Arabia and Europe,” Shah said. “On the other hand in neighbouring countries, farmers are provided with special reforms packages.”
He said the government should not turn a blind eye to the problems of farmers. Later, Shah spoke to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi. They agreed on taking the issue of farmers being baton-charged to the National Assembly, which is set to convene soon for the budget session.
While relating to the incident, Shah remarked he could feel the pain of farmers who were beaten during the protest. Former president Asif Ali Zardari has also condemned the incident, saying farmers should not be forced to take extreme steps.
Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari voiced concerns over the attack on protesting farmers. He said it was their democratic right to protest outside the Parliament. Moreover, a statement quoted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan as saying that the incumbent government does not value farmers and labourers. “The assault on farmers who took to the street for their rights reflects an authoritarian mindset.”

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