July 19, 2021 3:25:16 am
FARMER LEADER Baldev Singh Sirsa on Sunday started a fast unto death, demanding the release of five farmers arrested three days ago on charges including sedition and attempt to murder for being part of the group that allegedly attacked Haryana Deputy Speaker Ranbir Singh Gangwa’s vehicle on July 11.
Meanwhile, over 5,000 security personnel from Haryana police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in Sirsa to maintain law and order, while 7,000 more are on standby in neighbouring districts. Mounted policemen have also been deployed to patrol on horseback.
Farmers had on Saturday started a round-the-clock indefinite dharna in front of the mini secretariat on Sirsa-Mansa road. Police had booked nearly 100 farmers under sedition charges for a protest against Gangwa. When Gangwa, who is a BJP MLA from Nalwa in Hisar, was coming out of a BJP meeting, protesters had tried to stop his vehicle. Purported video clippings of the incident show that stone-pelting, due to which the rear windscreen of his car had shattered. Farm leaders claimed that farmers were not involved in any stone pelting, and alleged that their “political opponents” might have planted such elements. “Such charges are being slapped against farmers just to suppress their voices against the farm laws,” said farmer leader Parhlad Singh Bharukhera.
Amid claims and counterclaims, police had arrested five farmers while conducting raids at their homes in the early hours of July 15, which prompted farmer outfits to call for a gherao of the SP office on July 17. However, the police stopped them at some distance from the SP office. As a result, farmers sat on dharna on the road itself.
A farmer leader from Sirsa, Lakhvinder, Singh said, “The talks held between farmer leaders and officers on Saturday were inconclusive. We had asked the administration to accept our demands by Sunday noon. When our demands were not accepted, Baldev Singh Sirsa started a fast unto death.”
In a statement Sunday, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) said: “The administration has so far not been able to show any video or other proof that farmers had indulged in the violence being alleged against them…It is clear that a weak Haryana (BJP-JJP) government is resorting to cheap tactics of slapping charges like sedition on protesting farmers as a desperate measure. It is ironic that state police are using these outdated and unconstitutional tactics even as the Supreme Court is speaking against abuse in the name of sedition.”
Sirsa SP Dr Arpit Jain said, “We are ready to show related video clippings to the farmer leaders anytime. We have taken action against those who had done illegal acts. We have recognised their faces too.”
“Stones were hurled at the vehicles on July 11. Had the stones hit somebody on the head, they could have died,” Jain had stated earlier.
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait expressed surprise over registration of a sedition case over “breaking a windscreen of a car”.
In his police complaint over the July 11 incident, Sirsa District Welfare Officer Sushil Kumar, who was deputed at the site as a duty magistrate, had stated: “Panjuana, Bharukhera and 90/100 unknown anti-social elements have revolted against the government by creating obstruction in government duty, committing murderous attack on public representatives and damaging government property.” He also claimed they raised slogans of “revolt”, though no such slogans were mentioned in the complaint.
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