Several farmers staged a protest today on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road to press their demand for minimum state assured price (SAP) of cane and served a four-day ultimatum to the Punjab government for accepting it. Addressing protesters assembled from across Punjab, Manjit Singh Rai, President Punjab Doaba Sangharsh Committee, said that cane-growers had shifted their protest programme from Chaheru bridge on the NH1 to Phagwara market respecting orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. "However, if state government does not accept our demands till November 19, then we will squat out dharna at Chaheru bridge on NH 1 on November 20, violating prohibitory orders enforced under Section 144 Cr Pc," Rai said. "In that eventuality, we will be constrained to regretfully ignore even the high court orders," he remarked. He hoped that the Punjab government will clinch the issue of cane price in its Cabinet meeting scheduled for November 17 or 18. Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Tayyab, accompanied by Superintendent of police Sandeep Sharma, came at the protest site to receive protesters' memorandum addressed to the Punjab chief minister. The DC also announced that he will bring to government's notice farmers' demands. "The Indo-Pakistan Sada-e-Sarhad international buses bound for Lahore and New Delhi passed as usual from the NH 1," the SSP said. Meanwhile, heavy police force was deployed at all strategic points on the NH 1 as a precautionary measure. Satnam Singh Sahni, organiser of the rally, said that their other demands included cash payment of cane and stopping levying of taxes on farmers by the central government. Farmers' leaders Kulwant Singh Sandhu and Baldev Singh Sarsa also addressed the rally. Some speakers also demanded the implementation of the Swaminathan report. The Punjab and Haryana High Court, while adjudicating on a Public interest litigation by Arrive Safe, had yesterday directed the administration to strictly implement prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Cr Pc to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the NH 1 in view of farmers' protest.
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