A group of BJP leaders in Punjab’s Phagwara had to flee the back door under police protection on Friday after farmers protesting the central government’s new agricultural laws staked a hotel where they were hosting an event.
Bharti Kisan Union (Doaba) protesters protested at the hotel where BJP leaders were observing the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Protesters said the hotel was owned by a BJP activist who also ran a company that supplied feed for cattle and chickens. They said they will boycott the company’s products.
Led by union vice president Kirpal Singh Mussapur, several protesters held a protest outside the hotel and surrounded the BJP leaders and workers who had managed to get inside before the farmers began their agitation.
The protesters also did not allow several BJP activists, including Bharati Sharma, president of the BJP Mahila Wing District, to enter the hotel, police said.
Those who had entered had to slip out the back door of the hotel one by one under police protection to save themselves from the demonstrators, police said.
They included BJP district and bloc presidents Rakesh Duggal and Paramjit Singh Pamma Chachoki and former mayor Arun Khosla.
Mr. Mussapur claimed that the BJP leaders were conspiring against the peasants and working on propaganda.
Protesters also launched slogans against Narendra Modi’s government and trade union minister Som Parkash, who belongs to Phagwara.
Protesters raised the BKU flag on a pole outside the hotel, warning the owner that if any BJP function is allowed in the hotel in the future or if any BJP function is allowed in the hotel, farmers will return to protest the hotel and its company , according to reports from the PTI news agency.
Farmers in different parts of the country have been protesting since last month against the three new central laws that they believe will lead to the dismantling of regulated markets.
They also fear that the government will stop buying wheat and rice at guaranteed prices, leaving them at the mercy of large companies.
Farmers’ unions who have led tens of thousands of farmers in a massive protest on the outskirts of Delhi have called for the total repeal of the laws and warned of greater agitation if their demands are not met.
So far, several rounds of talks between ministers and farmer leaders have failed to bring about a breakthrough.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday offered to hold new talks to end the stalemate.
(With input from agencies)