A 35-year-old farmer was severely injured on Sunday after being hit by a tear gas shell the police lobbed during a protest in Rajasthan’s Jaipur district. Scores of farmers had gathered in Kushalpura village in the district’s Chomu tehsil demanding that the toll booth set up on the road connecting Jaipur and Chomu be removed.
Farmers have been leading the protest for the past 23 days.
Deputy Commissioner of Police in Jaipur (Rural) Rameshwar Singh told Scroll.in that the police resorted to using batons and tear gas shells after the protestors began to pelt stones at the security forces.
In a video that surfaced on social media, an injured farmer – identified as Babulal Kumawat – can be seen lying on the ground with other protestors pleading to the police for help. However, the police personnel present at the spot continue chasing the farmers while wielding batons instead of attending to Kumawat immediately.
Later, the individual recording the video can be heard saying that the incident is being recorded so the clip can be sent to the Supreme Court. A few police officers can then be seen taking the help of other protestors to lift Kumawat and move him to a vehicle. The farmer was injured in his arm and is undergoing treatment in a hospital, the police said.
The police detained several protestors after the incident.
“The police baton-charged protestors without any warning,” said National Vice President of the All India Kisan Sabha Amra Ram, who was present at the site of the demonstrations when the police crackdown took place. “The police fired guns in the air to intimidate protestors before they lobbed tear gas shells at them. One of the tear gas shells was about to hit Kumawat on his head and he injured his arm when he tried to deflect it.”
Elaborating on the cause of the protest, Ram said the toll booth was set up to collect taxes on a 13-km stretch that was reconstructed recently. The road connects several villages in Chomu, and farmers have to pay taxes every time they cross the toll booth, even if it is to refill their tractors with diesel.