Sandeep Singh: How Various Protests Adapted To Channi’s Appointment

Aside from the political upheaval and new appointments, we have also seen shifts in the behaviour of protestors in the state. 

Sandeep Singh
Sept 30, 2021 | 3 min. read | Original Reporting

Since Captain Amarinder Singh resigned as the Chief Minister (CM) of Punjab, and Charanjit Singh Channi, a MLA of Chamkaur Sahib, took over the reins, many things have changed in the state.  

Aside from the political upheaval and new appointments, we have also seen shifts in the behaviour of protestors in the state. 

When Captain was the CM, Patiala used to regularly witness protests by different employee organizations and unions. The media would report on marches toward Singh’s Moti Mahal. However, with his resignation, we have seen many protestors move from Patiala to Morinda in Rupnagar and Kharar in Mohali, where Channi has homes. 

In fact, just a stone’s throw away from Channi’s residence, protestors are sitting on the road and demanding their right on various issues. They have also blocked one lane of NH-5. 

There is a diversity of grievances being aired in front of Channi’s homes, from teachers protesting recruitment policies to sanitation workers asking for better worker rights. 

In the town of Morinda workers from across various industries have been protesting outside Channi’s residence since September 23.  One of those is Vakil Singh, 26 years old, from the Firozpur district. 

“Initially, we protested outside Captain’s residence Moti Mahal in Patiala where police used water cannons and had lathi-charged us. Then we started protesting in Punjab Minister Razia Sultana’s town of Malerkotla. When Channi became Punjab CM, we shifted our protest to Morinda.”

“We are only demanding that we should be regularised and paid a fixed salary per month. We came to Channi’s town as he promised that he will provide jobs to everyone. There are only 200 workers like me in Punjab,” shared Gurpreet Singh Sodhi, President of Sanitation Motivators Unions of Punjab. Sodhi is sitting on fast unto death. 

Those in the medical field have also now shifted protests to Channi’s households, where almost 2000 support staff workers are looking to stop the government from releasing them as some argue that the pandemic is calming down. 

“We came here with high hopes on CM Channi who claimed that he would work for the betterment of masses,” says Charanjit Kaur. 

“It has been more than three  months since we started protesting but even with Captain now gone, we still have not received any good news from the government.”

The government has made no arrangements for water and toilets for protestors. Female protestors usually go to nearby homes and Gurudwara to use the washroom and to take a bath.  The Gurudwara also provides them with food and water. Men and women protestors sleep on the road.

Not to be outdone, a dozen employee organizations from the power corporation have also been protesting near Morinda, blocking a lane on National Highway-5 from Chandigarh to Ludhiana.  

They have put up tents, parked tractors, and trollies on roads. Langar is being prepared under a flyover. Many workers were seen repairing fans to  put up in tents so that they can continue the protest without worrying about scorching heat.  

A mini-truck from Tarantaran, about 200 KMs from Morinda recently arrived as well. There were at least 30 men in the truck including Gurwinder Singh, a water supply worker. 

“All of our organizations have given a call to gather us here so we are just following their orders. It has been 10-12 years since we are working on a contract basis, no government paid heed to our demands. Now we are in the new CM’s town to get our rights.”

Balhiar Singh, the president of the contractual workers union said “we had started protesting during the SAD-BJP regime. When Captain was CM we were protesting even back then. This time our protest started from of September 7 in Thikriwal Chowk Patiala, When Channi became CM we came to Morinda.”

Channi may have become CM but he is facing a new level of scrutiny that he has never experienced before. As for the Congress, they hope he has a thick skin, as state assembly elections loom large. 

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Sandeep Singh hails from Machhiwara, Punjab. As an independent journalist, he has worked with many prominent Indian news organizations. Sandeep has been following the farmer’s protest in Punjab since its onset and traveled with them to Delhi. He spends most of his time at the Singhu border protest site. You can follow Sandeep on Twitter @Punyaab


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