Farmers protesting for a week against the police action against them in Haryana’s Karnal district called off their agitation on Saturday after the state government assured them of a probe into the incident.

Ten farmers were injured on August 28 when the police had baton-charged them during a demonstration in Karnal against the Centre’s three agriculture laws. Former Karnal Sub-divisional Magistrate Ayush Sinha had ordered the police officers to “smash the heads” of the protestors if they crossed certain police barricades.

On Saturday, both the farmers and the state government agreed on a month-long probe by a former judge into the baton-charge incident as well as Sinha’s role. Sinha has been sent on a leave till the inquiry is completed.

On September 1, Sinha was transferred out of Karnal as part of a reshuffle in the district administration.

“The state government has accepted our demand that the IAS officer’s role will be probed by a retired high court judge so that if he indicts the officer, it will have a bigger impact,” Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni said at a press conference.

The state government announced jobs for two family members of Sushil Kajal who had died of a heart attack following the baton-charge incident. The state police had earlier said that reports linking Kajal’s death to the baton-charge were incorrect.

The farmers began their protest against the baton-charge incident on September 5 when they gathered around Karnal’s mini secretariat. Over the week, three rounds of talks between the farmers and the Haryana government were held but they failed to reach a consensus.

The government had suspended mobile internet from Tuesday midnight till Thursday midnight to avoid the spread of misinformation through social media.

Farmers’ protests

The protests in Karnal that took place of August 28 were a part of a series of demonstrations that have erupted across the country since last year in connection with the farm laws.

They started with thousands of farmers protesting at Delhi’s border points since November 2020, seeking the withdrawal of the three farm laws passed in September last year.

The government has claimed the new laws are aimed at making farming more profitable, but the farmers argue that the legislations would 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.