A day after Haryana Police lathi charged farmers protesting at the Gharaunda toll plaza in Karnal district, a farmers’ mahapanchayat is being held in Nuh.
Senior leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha – the umbrella body under which many farmer groups have united to protest the farm laws – and Bhartiya Kisan Union, including Dr Darshan Pal, Rakesh Tikait and Balbir Singh Rajjewal, and Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav are at the meeting.
Today’s event had been scheduled before the yesterday’s violence.
Farmers’ groups have also announced plans to block the Jalandhar-Delhi highway for two hours (noon to 2 pm) to protest that violence. The SKM will also hold a protest at Jalandhar’s PAP Chowk and, during this time, roads leading to Amritsar and Ludhiana are expected to be closed.
In neighbouring Punjab, BKU (Ugrahan) chief Joginder Ugrahan said farmers in the state will also block roads and highways for two hours.
Furious farmers blocked multiple roads across Haryana yesterday afternoon to protest “brutal” police action against fellow farmers protesting a state-level meet being led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to discuss a forthcoming municipal election.
Haryana Police lathi charged the farmers after they attempted to stop a convoy carrying state BJP chief OP Dhankar from reaching the meeting.
The police responded with what they called “mild force… as protesters were affecting traffic”.
But disturbing images of walking wounded – men with blooded clothes and bandages, and others with serious-looking injuries to their head – soon began circulating on social media, triggering fierce protests from farmers groups and the opposition, including the Congress.
A controversial video of a civil officer telling cops to “crack the heads” of farmers did not help the police and the BJP government, with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi tweeting about “blood being spilt”.
No action has been taken against the civil officer – believed to be Karnal’s Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Ayush Sinha – as yet, despite demands from protesting farmers and opposition leaders.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was scathing in his criticism, calling it a “government-sponsored attack”; such a “vicious assault”, he said, was unacceptable and condemnable.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also tweeted, saying: “It is absolutely wrong to lathi charge farmers who are protesting peacefully.”
“Many farmers were injured after police brutally lathi charged them without provocation,” Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni was quoted by PTI.
PTI reported that at least 10 people had been injured.
How the situation escalated….This morning farmers had planned to assemble in a gurudwara sahib in Karnal before leaving for protest and this is how roads leading to that Gurudwara was blocked by the dist admin to thwart their assembly… pic.twitter.com/tgoWKotY3M
— Mohammad Ghazali (@ghazalimohammad) August 28, 2021
In June too Haryana farmers and police clashed; that was after an MLA made abusive comments during a spat with protesting farmers in the town of Tohana.
And back in November last year, when thousands of farmers began marching on Delhi, the Haryana government and police came under severe criticism for widespread violence against the farmers, including the digging up of roads and establishing of military-style barricades to halt their progress.
The three farm laws have triggered widespread and furious protests from farmers; they say the laws will rob them of guaranteed prices for their crops and leave them at the mercy of corporate interests. The government, however, has insisted the laws will benefit farmers.
Several rounds of talks have been held but no resolution is in sight, with the government unwilling to scrap the laws (one of the farmers’ demands) and the farmers standing firm.
A central panel last met farmers’ leaders on January 22. There have been no talks since January 26, when a tractor rally in the national capital turned violent.
With input from PTI