CHANDIGARH: Farmers began their round-the-clock indefinite sit-in protest at Sirsa, the native town of Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and his grand uncle Ranjit Chautala, after a faceoff with the police during their march to the houses of the JJP leaders.
Scuffles broke out when the police stopped hundreds of farmers, who on the call of 17 farmers’ organisations under the banner of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, marched towards the houses of Chautalas.
Police had prepared themselves to face the protesters as they had barricaded all routes leading to the house of the JJP leaders. Scuffles soon lead to stone-pelting and the police then used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the farmers who tied to break down the barricades.
Unable to proceed to Chautalas' houses, the farmers sat on a dharna on Sirsa-Barnala Highway in the state and accused the two state government ministers from the Chautala clan of sullying the image of farmers 'messiah' Devi Lal.
Prominent among those who took part in the meeting included Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh, Swaraj India's Yogendra Yadav and state Kisan Manch president Prahalad Singh.
After the meeting, several farmers from the 17 outfits headed towards the Chautalas' residences but their bid was foiled by police.
Giving vent to his anger against the uncle-nephew duo from the Chautala clan, Bhartiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh lamented that while late Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal always fought for farmers, both Ranjit Chautala and his nephew Dushyant Chautala were busy "enjoying pleasures of power", "ignoring" farmers' interests.
"Both Dushyant and Ranjit Chautala are bringing disrespect to the name of farmers 'massiah' Devi Lal by misusing his name in the garb of the peasantry," said Haryana Kisan Manch president Prahalad Singh.
“In the protest, the police used force on us even as we were peacefully moving towards toward the residences of the Chautalas. The police stopped us about 500 meters from the houses and used water cannon and fired tear gas shells on us. One of our protesters got injured. A few people said to have backing of politicians tried to hijack our protest and also pelted stones at the police in order to defame us,” Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS) president Mandeep Singh Nathwan said.
Before starting their march towards Chautalas' houses, the farmers belonging to 17 different peasants' organisations had held a 'mahapanchayat' at the Ram Leela Ground under the aegis of Haryana Kisan Manch to protest the three farm reform laws.
Prominent among those who took part in the meeting included Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh, psephologist and Swaraj India’s Yogendra Yadav and state Kisan Manch president Prahalad Singh.
“We have started round-the-clock indefinite sit-in protest on Sirsa-Barnala road against Dushyant and Ranjit Chautala till they resign from the state Cabinet and withdraw support from the BJP-led Haryana government,” the KSS president said.
“All 17 farmer outfits are together in this fight and we will continue till this three agriculture laws are not withdrawn by the Centre. We have also decided that BJP, Jannayak Janata Party and leaders of any other political party who supports these laws will not be allowed entry in the villages across the state.”
The Jannayak Janta Party, which has opposed the BJP’s farm sector bills, has a strong rural base in their Haryana. But the party has come under sharp attack for its failure to take a stand over the contentious farm legislations.
Asserting that the Centre's farm laws were anti-farmer, Yogendra Yadav demanded resignations of the uncle-nephew duo from the state government.
Gurnam Singh said a meeting of representatives of various farmers' organisations will soon be convened to chalk out a programme to intensify the farmers' agitation all over the country.
Meanwhile, MLA Abhay Singh Chautala condemned the use of tear gas shells and water cannons on protesting farmers by the police.
(With PTI Inputs)