CHANDIGARH: Farmers in Haryana blocked several roads and highways after 10 of them were injured following a police lathicharge to disperse a group of farmers who were going towards Karnal to protest against a BJP meeting attended by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and state BJP chief O P Dhankar.
Several roads were blockaded at different places in protest. The affected routes included the Fatehabad-Chandigarh, Gohana-Panipat and Jind-Patiala highways, and Ambala- Chandigarh and Hisar-Chandigarh national highways.
Several protesters present at the site near the Bastara toll plaza around 15 km from Karnal claimed to have witnessed 8-10 people sustain injuries in the police action.
Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni alleged the police brutally lathicharged the farmers, leaving many injured. Senior Samyukta Kisan Morcha leader Darshan Pal said “despite a peaceful protest, the farmers were brutally attacked and lathicharged.”
The police, however, said only mild force was used as the protesters were blocking the highway, affecting traffic movement. Farmers protesting against the central farm laws have been opposing public functions of the BJP-JJP combine in Haryana.
Citing section 144 of the CrPC imposed in the area banning assembly of five or more people, the police made several announcements over loud speakers, declaring the gathering by the protesters “unlawful.” Initially, they asked the farmers to disperse, but resorted to force as the protesters refused to move.
The police said the protesters were bent on moving towards the BJP meeting in Karnal. All roads leading to the venue were heavily barricaded. Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda condemned the lathicharge. “Governments are not run with fear of the bullet but by winning hearts,” he tweeted.
Break their heads, IAS officer to cops
Karnal Sub Divisional Magistrate Ayush Sinha landed into a controversy as a video went viral in which he is heard directing the police to break the heads of farmers if they try to break the barricade during their agitation. Later sources said that the direction came after stone-pelting had started and steps were taken as per CrPC. The officers of the district administration were not available for comments despite repeated attempts. Later, SInha told the media that stone pelting had started at many places. “The briefing was to use force proportionately,” he said. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh demanded dismissal of the officer and strict action against him.