Farmers on Saturday night staged a sit-in protest at Sadar police station in Tohana in Haryana’s Fatehabad district, demanding the release of other farmers, reported PTI. The farmers were arrested on Tuesday night after getting in a spat with Jananayak Janata Party MLA Devendra Singh Babli.
Farmers’ leaders, including Rakesh Tikait, Gurnam Singh Chaduni and Yogendra Yadav, observed the sit-in with many supporters. The farmers continued their sit-in on Sunday, according to ANI.
On June 1, farmers had shown black flags and shouted slogans against the JJP legislator. Babli had alleged that some of the protestors behaved in an unruly manner and smashed the windscreen of his vehicle. Two first information reports were registered against the agitators, who were booked for manhandling the MLA, reported NDTV. Babli had also alleged that the farmers injured his assistant.
The MLA has issued an apology for hurling abuses at the protestors. “I uttered some words which were not appropriate,” Babli said. “As I am a public representative, I take back all those words and express regret.”
On Saturday, Yadav said that the matter of registration of an FIR against Babli has been resolved as the legislator issued an apology. However, the matter of releasing the farmers was not over yet, he said.
“We raised two issues and the first one was that we wanted those who have been arrested should be released and if they cannot release them then we should be put behind bars,” said the Swaraj India chief, adding that farmers were there to court arrest.
Yadav said that the government was not ready to withdraw the case against the farmers. He said the police had told them to come after two days to hold talks on the matter.
“We have come here not to listen and we came here for resolution of the issue,” said Yadav, adding that the sit-in protest would continue till the matter was resolved.
Chaduni has appealed to the farmers to protest in a peaceful manner. “We don’t have to take any such step that will break this agitation,” he said. “This agitation is at that stage that one small lapse can cost us heavily.”
Farmers said they would mobilise more people at the police station and make arrangements for food and water for the protestors.
Meanwhile, farmers observed “Sampoorna Kranti Diwas” on Saturday to mark one year of the passing of the three contentious farm bills, reported The Indian Express. As part of their protest, the farmers burnt copies of the laws across Haryana, especially outside the residences of legislators, Vidhan Sabha Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and others.
In several districts of the state, the state police were on high alert to maintain law and order. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had warned the farmers of actions if the protest was not peaceful.
Earlier, Home Minister Anil Vij too had given the same warning to the protestors.
The farm laws protest
Last year, farmers stormed into the bordering areas of the capital between November 25 and 26 braving barricades, batons and tear gas, to protest against the farming legislature they dubbed as “black laws”. Since then, thousands of them have settled down with their tractors and trolleys at Singhu and Tikri areas bordering Haryana and at Ghazipur bordering Uttar Pradesh.
The farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The government, however, continues to claim that the three legislation are pro-farmer.
In January, nearly two months into the protest movement, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of the farm laws. It instead set up a committee and tasked it to consult stakeholders and assess the impact of the laws.
Talks between farmers groups and the central government to resolve the protests came to a complete deadlock after farmers rejected the Centre’s offer to suspend the laws for two years. The last time both sides met was on January 22. Since then, most farmer leaders have said they were willing to speak to the government again.