At least two persons were injured on Saturday after farmers protesting against the new agriculture laws clashed with the police in Rohtak, during Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Khattar’s visit to the district, The Hindu reported.
The farmers alleged that the protestor was injured because the police baton-charged them, but the Haryana Police denied this. They claimed that an elderly farmer was wounded amid stone pelting by the protestors.
For the past four months, thousands of farmers have been camped at the doorstep of Delhi to protest the new laws. They say the legislations will leave them at the mercy of big corporations, but the government says the laws will modernise and energise the farming sector.
Multiple rounds of talks between the government and farmers have failed to end the stalemate. The crisis has also left farmers disillusioned, many of whom accuse the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders of furthering corporate agenda at their expense.
On Saturday, clashes erupted when a group of protestors tried to stop Khattar from entering a private university, where he was scheduled to attend a condolence meet in memory of Rohtak MP Arvind Sharma’s father.
Samyukat Kisan Morcha, the umbrella group that is spearheading the movement, said that farmers had peacefully gathered outside Baba Mastnath University campus ahead of the chief minister’s visit, when the police resorted to “unprovoked lathi-charge”.
“Given the continuous anti-farmer speeches and behaviour of Haryana BJP leaders and government –the insulted and angry farmers decided to protest peacefully with black flags and gathered in large numbers at Asthal Bohar,” Samyukt Kisan Morcha leader Darshan Pal told The Hindu. “However, the police used force against the protestors injuring several protesters.”
Pal said many farmers were injured in the incident. Haryana All-India Kisan Sabha Vice President Inderjit Singh alleged that women protestors were manhandled by the male police personnel, and that some protestors “received grievous injuries”.
The Haryana Police, however, denied there was any clash and said “the protest was handled in a peaceful manner”.
Superintendent of Police, Rohtak, Rahul Sharma told The Hindu that an elderly farmer and a police officer were the only ones who were injured during stone pelting by the protestors. The injured farmer was provided medical aid, he added.
“The farmers wanted to break through the barricades and enter the ground inside a university campus where the chief ministers chopper was scheduled to land,” Sharma added. “In view of the protests, the chief minister later landed at Police Lines and went ahead with his programme in the city.”
Farmers block highway in Jind
Angered by the incident, several farmers blocked a national highway near Kandela village in Jind district on Saturday evening, The Indian Express reported.
Police had to divert traffic to alternate routes and talks were on till late Saturday evening between police and farmers to clear the blockade.
Protesting farmers were demanding the release of Ravi Azad, a farmer leader who was detained by police in Hisar.
They also condemned the recent attack on farmer leader Rakesh Tikait. On April 2, a group of people threw stones at Tikait’s convoy in Rajasthan’s Alwar district. The police said that Tikait was not in the car at the time of the incident. The farmer leader had alleged that the attack was “pre-planned by BJP workers”.
Several other leaders of the Haryana government, which comprises the BJP and the Jannata Janayak Party, have faced similar protests over the past few months.
On April 1, a group of protesting farmers forced Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala to take a helicopter from Hisar airport to Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University – a distance of just over 8 kilometres – in the town. The protestors also followed Chautala for several hours in Hisar and left only after the deputy chief minister flew to the next destination from there.