Although the district administration had imposed CrPC Section 144 in the area, farmers managed to reach Anaj Mandi in huge numbers.
Braving inclement weather, a large number of farmers from across Haryana and several neighbouring states gathered in Karnal’s Anaj Mandi on a call given by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) to gherao the mini-secretariat in the district in protest against the recent police lathicharge on farmers at Bastara Toll Plaza.
After talks with the district administration yielded no result, the farmers began marching towards the mini-secretariat in the evening.
Several farmers and cops had sustained injuries in the August 28 lathicharge at Bastara, while it was claimed that a farmer, Sushil Kajal, had succumbed to injuries sustained during the police assault.
Although the district administration had on Tuesday imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in the area, farmers managed to reach Anaj Mandi in huge numbers. The farmers put forth three primary demands including Rs 25 lakh compensation to the family of Kajal and a government job for his relative, compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for those injured in the lathicharge and registration of a criminal case and stern action against Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha and police personnel responsible for the lathicharge.
Senior SKM leaders including Rakesh Tikait, Yogendra Yadav, Gurnam Singh Chaduni, Balbir Singh Rajewal and Darshan Pal were part of the 11-member delegation that went for the talks, while Karnal Deputy Commissioner NK Yadav and senior police officers represented the district administration.
After multiple rounds of talks failed, farmers started marching towards the mini-secretariat. By 5 pm, they had crossed one police naka. Announcing that talks with the district administration had failed, Rajewal said the farmers will not break any police barricade but will continue with their decision to gherao the mini-secretariat. He added that farmers will not indulge in any activity that disrupts law and order and if police try to stop them, they shall offer to get arrested.
Alleging that the Karnal Deputy Commissioner was adamant on defending SDM Sinha, Rajewal said the DC had sought a month’s time to probe whether Sinha’s objectionable words actually led to the police lathicharge.
Apprehending that there was a “clear potential of disruption of public utilities and safety; damage to public assets and amenities; and law and order”, mobile internet services have been discontinued in Karnal and several neighbouring districts. Traffic police also announced diversions on the NH-44 (Ambala-New Delhi stretch) in case the farmers block any part of the national highway.
Earlier in the day, the district administration had issued a message: “Ground intelligence reports indicate that some elements from Rambha, some from Nissing and some from other places have reached the Anaj Mandi armed with lathis, iron rods, which does not show good intention on their part. Police and administration have spoken to the Kisan leaders who have tried to persuade such elements to leave the venue, but they are not listening to their leaders. Karnal district administration and police are warning such mischievous elements not to take law into their hands and maintain public order. All such elements will be strictly dealt with in accordance with law.”
Meanwhile, Haryana Agriculture Minister JP Dalal accused BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni of playing into the hands of the Congress. “I feel Chaduni took extortion money from the Congress to create continuous chaos in Haryana. They will continue this until some innocent farmers die. Some Haryana farmers have understood this isn’t about the farmers but is political,” Dalal said.
Even as Home Minister Anil Vij appealed to the farmers not to indulge in any violence and said that they could carry out their demonstration in a “peaceful manner”, agriculture minister JP Dalal said there was no need for any agitation by farmers in Haryana as the three contentious farm legislations had not yet been implemented in the state.
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