Farmers in Haryana on Tuesday sat in protest outside outside the mini-secretariat building in Karnal, demanding justice for those who were injured in the police baton-charge that took place last month, NDTV reported.
On August 28, the police had cracked down on a group of farmers heading to Karnal to protest against a meeting of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders. They wanted to voice their opposition against the three agricultural laws.
At least 10 protestors were injured in the baton-charge. Photos on social media showed blood spattered on the clothes of the farmers.
On Tuesday, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmers’ unions, had planned to gherao the mini-secretariat in Karnal to protest against the police action.
Earlier in the day, 11 farmer leaders had met the Karnal district officials to discuss permissions for the protest march, but the talks failed, Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav said in a tweet.
After the development, the farmers began their march to the mini-secretariat in Karnal. A video tweeted by ANI showed the protestors jumping over barricades.
Yadav, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait and other leaders of Samyukta Kisan Morcha were briefly detained during the protest.
The protestors gheraoed the mini-secretariat on Tuesday evening.
Farmers’ unions said they will continue to camp outside the building till their demand for action against officials involved in the baton-charge was fulfilled, The Tribune reported.
The protestors have demanded the suspension of former Karnal Sub-Divisional Ayush Sinha, who was filmed ordering the police to smash the heads of farmers on August 28.
Sinha was transferred out of Karnal on September 1.
Ahead of the farmers’ protest on Tuesday, the police had increased the security in Karnal. Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Navdeep Singh Virk said that 40 companies of state police personnel and paramilitary forces have been deployed, according to ANI.
The government has also suspended mobile internet services in Karnal, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind and Panipat districts ahead of a proposed farmers’ mahapanchayat (congregation) in Karnal. The internet shut down which came into effect started at 12.30 am on Tuesday will last till midnight.
The state home department, in an order, said internet had been suspended due to a perceived threat to Karnal’s law and order, the possibility of disruption of public safety and damage to public assets, The Hindu reported.
The order stated that internet services could be misused to propagate inflammatory material and false rumours, “which are being or could be transmitted or circulated to the public through social media – messaging services on mobile internet services, SMS services and other dongle services”.
The protests at Karnal, where the farmers were baton-charged, are a part of a series of demonstrations that have erupted across the country since last year. They started with thousands of farmers protesting at Delhi’s border points since November 2020, seeking the withdrawal of the farm laws passed last September.
The government has claimed the new laws are aimed at making farming more profitable, but the farmers argue that they will bring about corporate dominance of the sector. However, farmers claim that once the prevailing authority of the state marketing boards – that provide a shield against exploitation – collapses, private entities will dictate the price of their produce.
They fear that the government plans to dismantle the minimum support price regime under the guise of reforming the agricultural sector.
In January, nearly two months into the farmer protests, the Supreme Court had suspended the implementation of the farm laws.