Farmers burn effigies during the 'Black Day' protest at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border, in Patiala district on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.
Farmers burn effigies during the 'Black Day' protest at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border, in Patiala district on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.Photo | PTI

Protesting farmers observe 'black day' slamming Haryana Police action; burn effigies of BJP leaders

Protesters demand the resignation of BJP ministers; farm leaders say the cremation of a farmer who died during a clash with Haryana police won't happen until the Punjab govt registers an FIR.

HOSHIARPUR/AMRITSAR: The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) observed a "black day" on Friday and burnt effigies of BJP leaders in protest against the Haryana Police's action against agitating farmers camping at two of the state's border points.

The call was given by the SKM on Thursday to mourn the death of Shubhkaran Singh, who died in clashes between the Haryana Police and farmers from Punjab.

The incident took place on Wednesday when the farmers taking part in a "Delhi Chalo" march organised by their unions rushed to the multi-layer barricades set up by authorities to prevent them from proceeding with their plan and clashed with police at the Khanauri border point between Punjab and Haryana.

Meanwhile, the Haryana Police on Friday lobbed tear gas shells to disperse farmers who were heading to the Khanauri border point of Punjab and Haryana. Farmers were going to the Khanauri border from Kheri Chopta village in Hisar-Narnaund road when police fired tear gas canisters.

The Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), which is a part of the SKM, said on Friday that it held demonstrations at 47 places in 17 Punjab districts in protest against Singh's death.

BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said they burnt effigies of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij.

In Amritsar, farmers burnt an effigy of the BJP-led centre at the New Golden Gate, the main entry point to the city. SKM leader Rattan Singh Randhawa said protests were held at various villages along the border, including Doekey, Mahima, Pandori, Modhey and Ratokey.

In Ludhiana, members of the SKM and trade unions jointly held a demonstration outside the Mini Secretariat. They burnt effigies of Shah, Khattar and Vij. The protesters demanded the resignation of the ministers and the registration of a murder case against those responsible for the death of Singh.

Similar protests took place in Hoshiarpur district, where farmers raised slogans against the Centre and the Haryana government. They also demanded that the government accept the demands of the protesting farmers, including a law on the minimum support price (MSP) for crops.

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'No cremation until FIR'

Farmer leaders participating in the 'Delhi Chalo' agitation on Friday said the cremation of Shubhkaran Singh will not take place until the Punjab government registers a case against those responsible for it.

The development came hours after Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore and a government job for Shubhkaran's sister.

Subhkaran Singh, 21, a native of Bathinda, died on Wednesday at the Khanauri border point on the Punjab-Haryana border amid clashes between Haryana Police and Punjab farmers.

According to the medical superintendent of Patiala-based Rajindra Hospital, Subhkaran had an injury to his head. The post-mortem was delayed as the farmers pressed for acceptance of their demands.

Speaking to reporters in Patiala, farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said the Punjab chief minister had asserted that stringent action would be taken against those responsible for Shubhkaran's death. But now the officials are saying that it was not possible, the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha leader said.

"We have told the (Shubhkaran) family that it may take two days or 10 days. For us, money is not important. We are demanding that an FIR be lodged and then cremation will take place," he said, accusing Punjab government officials of "pressuring" Shubhkaran's family into agreeing to the cremation.

Replying to a question, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, leader of SKM (Non-Political) that is spearheading the 'Delhi Chalo' march along with the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, claimed the senior superintendent of police of Bathinda has said that police could not register a case against Haryana security personnel.

"If you cannot register a case, then how can you call yourself 'Punjab de rakhe' (Punjab's protector)," Dallewal posed, adding that the police officer told them that if they registered a case, then Haryana security personnel would also do so.

Replying to another question, Dallewal said, "A youth died during our agitation. Our priority is to ensure justice for him. We are concentrating on it. It is up to the Punjab government how soon it will give justice to us."

Asked about the next course of action on the call for the march to the national capital, Pandher said, "We will hold a meeting and make our stand clear."

The SKM, which spearheaded a 2020–21 agitation against three farm laws that have since been repealed, is not a part of the "Delhi Chalo" agitation, but has extended support for it.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) are spearheading the "Delhi Chalo" march to press the Centre to accept their demands, including a legal guarantee on the MSP and farm loan waiver.

Members of the SKM (Non-Political) and KMM put up black flags on their vehicles to register their protest against Singh's death.

Farmer leaders put the march on hold for two days on Wednesday after Singh's death and said they would decide their next course of action on Friday evening.

Besides the MSP, the farmers from Punjab are also demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, no hike in the electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence in Uttar Pradesh.

Reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during the 2020–21 agitation against the three farm laws are also among their demands. 

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