Accusing JJP MLA Devender Babli of hitting a farmer in his private parts, the protesting farmers Wednesday demanded that he tender an apology to them or an FIR for attempt to murder be lodged against the legislator, failing which they will gherao all the police stations in Haryana on June 7. Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij, meanwhile, issued a warning to “those taking law into their hands” saying “such things will not be tolerated”.
This comes a day after Babli and farmers entered into a direct confrontation during a protest against the MLA at Tohana in Fatehabad district. Babli had blamed the protesting farmers of launching a “murderous attempt” on him during a protest on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, farmers took out a march in Tohana, Babli’s constituency, demanding an FIR against him. The farmers also gheraoed the sub-divisional magistrate’s office.
Addressing the protesting farmers, Bharatiya Kisan Union’s (BKU) Haryana chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni said, “The administration should immediately lodge an FIR against Devender Babli. He has abused and provoked the public. He hit a farmer at his private parts who could have died. The MLA should be booked under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC.”
The farmer leader further said, “In a video message, the MLA has termed the farmers as terrorists stating they want to create an atmosphere like that of Punjab. He should be booked under relevant provisions for this too. If the police don’t lodge an FIR against him, the farmers will gherao all police stations for two hours from 11 am to 1 pm on June 7.”
Chaduni also demanded that “Babli should apologise” and “the police should also withdraw the case lodged against some farmers in connection with Tuesday’s incident.” The BKU leader claimed that the administration has sought 2-3 days-time to consider their demands.
After the protest in Tohana, a group of young farmers led by local farmer activists moved to Babli’s native village Bidai Khera, which is just a few kms away from the town. Keeping in view their plans to gherao the residence of Babli, heavy police force was deployed there. Sources say around 50 farmers were detained when they were staging a dharna there amid slogans against the JJP legislator.
As per some video clippings shared on the social media, there was a heated argument between Babli and protesters Tuesday after the latter showed the MLA black flags. After the incident, Babli had said, “A bunch of people first hit my vehicle with a green Maruti Gypsy and blocked my way. Then the other group began attacking my vehicle and smashed the windows. The mob was too agitated and began hurling abuses… My PA was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle. As a bunch of people smashed the rear windscreen, pieces of shattered glass hit my PA’s head and he sustained severe head injuries.”
On farmers demanding his apology, news agency PTI reported Babli as saying, “Is there a ‘goonda raj’ in the state? If such incidents keep happening and elected representatives are targeted like this, how will the common man feel safe?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Vij, issuing a warning, said, “Holding protests in a peaceful manner is their democratic right, but no one is allowed to take law into their hands. The way Tuesday’s incident unfolded, such things will not be tolerated. Strict action will be taken against those taking law into their hands,” Vij told reporters in Ambala.
He said an FIR in connection with the incident has been lodged and details recorded.
Vij said he had earlier said the protesters can show black flags standing 200 metres away, but the protest should be peaceful. “What type of agitation (by farmers) is this that elected representatives are not being allowed to take part in any public function, visit hospitals to enquire about the well being of patients or freely travel to their homes? Such things will not be tolerated,” he said.
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