The Haryana police on Thursday used batons to disperse hundreds of farmers protesting against the Narendra Modi government’s three farm ordinances at Pipli in Kurukshetra district, PTI reported. The police resorted to force after the farmers forcibly tried to move towards a rally ground by breaking barricades.

The national highway at Pipli, which connects Delhi to Ambala near Kurukshetra, remained tense for about four hours due to the confrontation between the police and the farmers. A number of barriers were put in place to stop the farmers from reaching Pipli Mandi to hold “Kisan bachao, Mandi bachao” rally, organised by the Bhartiya Kisan Union and other farmer organisations. A similar protest was organised in Punjab earlier.

Superintendent of Police Astha Modi said the protestors blocked the national highway and later the district administration lifted the barricades to allow them to reach the site. The administration had also imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure that the rally is cancelled, NDTV reported. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly were present at the Rafael jets’ induction ceremony in Ambala, which is just 50 km away.

Meanwhile, the BJP-led Haryana government directed farmers to cancel the protest or face charges under the Epidemic Act and the Disaster Management Act amid the coronavirus crisis.

The farmers were protesting the three ordinances passed by the Cabinet in June, which includes the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance. The biggest demand of the farmers is introduction of a law to assure them of a minimum support price. They also fear that an amendment in the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, will lead to black marketing.

Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh Charuni said the rally was successful against the “repressive government”, adding that farmers would continue to protest throughout the country till the “anti-farmer” ordinances are not withdrawn.

Charuni alleged that the BJP government was throwing the farmers before “big sharks” to exploit them with these new ordinances. He said many farmers were injured during the baton-charge and several of them were taken into custody to prevent them from reaching the rally site.

Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja, former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala strongly condemned the use of police force on farmers. Opposition leaders accused the BJP-Jannayak Janata Party government of trying to suppress the voice of farmers through oppressive measures. JJP is an alliance partner of the Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana government.