The Madhya Pradesh Police used water cannons and tear gas shells on Saturday to disperse Congress workers marching towards Raj Bhawan in Bhopal against the new agriculture laws, PTI reported. Six policemen and several Congress workers were injured during the incident. A number of Congress leaders, including Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh, were arrested as well, according to PTI.
Hundreds of Congress workers first gathered at the city’s Jawahar Chowk area around noon and then marched towards Raj Bhawan, the official residence of the governor, to demand the repeal the three contentious farm laws, NDTV reported.
However, as the Congress workers approached the governor’s residence, the police warned them on loudspeakers that they would use force to stop the rally. As the people kept marching, the police used water cannons and tear gas shells. Later, they also resorted to baton charge, as the crowd broke up, according to NDTV.
“Police first used water cannons, then fired tear gas shells,” TT Nagar area city superintendent of police told PTI. “The protestors threw stones, broke down barricades and attacked police personnel, prompting the police to resort to mild lathi charge.”
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Kamal Nath took to Twitter to criticise the police’s action. “I strongly condemn the barbaric cane charge, use of tear gas and water on thousands of farmers and Congressmen protesting peacefully,” he tweeted in Hindi. Earlier on Saturday, he had flagged off the rally, saying that the new laws would benefit only capitalists, PTI reported.
The state unit of Congress tweeted later in the day, informing that Nath had submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind, demanding the repeal of the three farm laws.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping on the outskirts of Delhi for nearly 60 days, demanding the repeal of the three agricultural laws passed in September. The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate agricultural. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies.
Meanwhile, the 11th round of talks between the farmer unions and the Centre ended in a deadlock on Friday as the protestors remained firm on their demand for a complete repeal of the new agriculture laws. No date has been fixed for the next meeting.
On Thursday, the farmers had rejected the Centre’s proposal to pause the implementation of the agricultural laws. They remained firm on their demand for a complete rollback of the legislations.