A farmer who was injured when the police in Haryana resorted to baton-charge on August 28 has died of a heart attack, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said on Sunday. The police, however, denied that he died due to injuries suffered during a protest against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in the state, reported ANI.

Chaduni tweeted that the farmer, Sushil Kajal, who owned one-and-a-half acres of land, had been participating in the agitation against the farm laws for the past nine months. “The farming community will always remember his sacrifice,” he added.

Karnal Superintendent of Police Ganga Ram Punia said reports linking Kajal’s death to the baton-charge were not correct.

“He went home in stable condition and died during sleep,” Punia claimed. “If it [reports about Kajal’s deaths] were true, family members would have come to the police. We haven’t received such information. These two incidents have no link.”

On Saturday, at least 10 farmers were injured after the state police baton-charged them at the Bastara toll plaza near Karnal as they were trying to reach the venue of a Bharatiya Janata Party meeting, attended by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to discuss the upcoming panchayat elections. The farmers had blocked several stretches on the national highway, resulting in traffic jams.

Farmer leaders had claimed that several protestors suffered serious injuries, but the police dismissed it saying that “only mild force was used”.

Karnal Sub-Divisional Magistrate Ayush Sinha was also caught on camera instructing police officers to hit farmers on their heads if they tried to breach a certain barricade during their protest. Several political leaders had criticised the Indian Administrative Service officer’s comments.

After the police action, the protestors blocked several stretches on the highway and toll plazas across the state. The farmers also held a mahapanchayat (congregation) in Haryana’s Nuh district.

Meghalaya governor demands dismissal of Karnal SDM

Meanwhile, Meghalaya Governor Satya Pal Malik has demanded that the Karnal sub-divisional magistrate be sacked. “He is not fit for the SDM post...the government is supporting him,” he told NDTV.

Malik also sought an apology from the Haryana chief minister for the police action.

The governor, who has previously supported the protesting farmers, also said that he was not afraid of the government’s reaction to his statements. “I am not in love with this post [of governor]... whatever I say, I speak from my heart,” Malik told NDTV. “I feel I have to return to the farmers.”

Farm laws agitation

Thousands of farmers have camped at the borders of Delhi since November, firm on their demand that the central government repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. The agitation against the farm laws has been particularly fierce in Punjab.

The protesting farmers fear the central government’s new laws will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The Centre, however, says that the laws will give farmers more access to markets and boost production through private investment.

Talks between farmers groups and the central government to resolve the protests came to a complete deadlock after farmers rejected the Centre’s offer to suspend the laws for two years.

The last time both sides met was on January 22. Since then, most farmer leaders have said they were willing to speak to the government again.

In January, nearly two months into the farmer protests, the Supreme Court had suspended the implementation of the farm laws. It instead set up a committee and tasked it to consult stakeholders and assess the impact of the laws.