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Haryana ‘closes’ 80 FIRs against farmers, more underway, say officials

The government has initiated a process to withdraw the cases after an agreement between the Centre and the farmers’ outfits last month.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 25, 2022 8:14:48 am
The government said that apart from the 87, the process of withdrawal of several other FIRs was also underway. (Representational/Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Around 90 days after the farmers withdrew their agitation against three contentious farm laws, the authorities in Haryana have “closed” as many as 87 FIRs out of a total of 278 cases lodged against the protesters in over a year of their protests.

The government has initiated a process to withdraw the cases after an agreement between the Central government and the farmers’ outfits over several issues last month. The government said that apart from the 87, the process of withdrawal of several other FIRs was also underway.

A senior officer of the state government told The Indian Express on Monday that the judges had accepted cancellation/ untraced reports in 69 out of as many as 74 FIRs in which the police had approached the courts. Apart from these FIRs, “the courts have already accepted the request of the police to withdraw cases in 18 FIRs, out of as many as 72 such applications yet”.

“Most of the remaining cases will come up for hearing in about a week. In a handful of cases, the hearing is in April or May. The police have filed applications for early hearing,” said the officer adding, “We have already sent a comprehensive case to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for permission to withdraw the cases in which the protesters were charged under Central Acts too.”

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Another officer said, “As many as 278 cases related to the farmers’ agitation have been identified, out of which a number of cases have already been sent to the courts as “untraced/ canceled”. In these cases, no one has been chargesheeted. The government has also accorded approval for withdrawal of a substantial number of cases in which chargesheets have been filed.”

Farmer leaders estimate that FIRs have been lodged against nearly 48,000 farmers during the agitation in Haryana. However, only a few hundred have been actually named in these cases. Most of the cases were lodged against farmers for breaking police barricades, blocking roads, and staging protests against the leaders of BJP-JJP as part of their agitation. A few of the cases were lodged under stringent charges like sedition and attempt to murder. However, the agitators had termed the FIRs as “a pressure tactic of the government to suppress their agitation”.

Farmer leaders on Monday claimed that court notices were still being sent to protesters even after the government had announced the withdrawal of cases. Recently, in a video message to the farmers, senior BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni had stated, “We have come to know that court notices are still being sent to a lot of farmers in Haryana in connection to the cases lodged during the farm agitation. We have found out that the process to withdraw cases is underway for the past few days. (Cancellation) of cases that have reached the court takes a little longer than the ones that were being dealt with by the police. In these circumstances, the (farmers) should not receive the court summons and not appear in courts. There should not be any confusion. We have held two meetings with the Haryana CID chief and another meeting may take place in the near future. We should wait for some more time.”

A farmer activist, Ramandeep Singh Mann, stated that the summons or notices should not be issued to farmers at all when the Central government had already given in writing that the cases lodged during the farmers’ protests will be withdrawn. “If the process of issuing notices continues, then it may agitate the farmers,” he added.

The activist also pointed out a summon in which a villager, Jaswinder from Kaithal’s Harsola village, has been asked to appear before a court on Tuesday. However, police officials point out the summon was issued on November 12 last year, and the government had agreed to withdraw the cases in December after final talks with the agitators.

Kaithal SP Lokender Singh told The Indian Express that as many as six cases were lodged against farmers during the agitation in this district. “In four of the cases, applications have been filed to cancel the cases. In the two remaining FIRs, there is a need to seek permission from the Central government as the same have been lodged under provisions of Central Act, like the National Highways Act. We have already initiated the process to seek permission from the Centre,” he added.

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