September 6, 2021 1:11:17 am
The massive farmer mahapanchayat of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, on Sunday done and dusted, all eyes are now set on the call of farmer outfits for an indefinite gherao of the government’s Mini Secretariat in Karnal — the home town of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar — from September 7 (Tuesday).
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which is spearheading the farmers’ agitation against three farm laws, has given a call for gherao of the secretariat demanding registration of an FIR against those officers who had ordered a lathicharge on agitators during their protest against a BJP event in Karnal on August 28.
Wary of the situation escalating, Karnal Deputy Commissioner, Nishant Kumar Yadav, has issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC under which the assembly of five or more people has been banned on September 7. Sources in Karnal told The Indian Express that a large number of farmers, mainly in their tractor-trolleys, are planning to move to Karnal on September 7 to join the protest. BKU Karnal leader, Jagdeep Singh Aulakh, confirmed the hectic preparations in the villages to join the gherao programme to seek action against the officers and officials responsible for the lathicharge who “broke heads” of farmers on August 28 when they were protesting peacefully. According to sources, the farmer leaders have mainly zeroed in on two DSPs, an Inspector and a few other officers against whom they want action taken for the “brutal” lathicharge. They are also demanding action against the then SDM, Ayush Sinha, for ordering the police to “break heads” of those who breach a security cordon during the protest of farmers.
In the video clip captured during a farmers’ protest in Karnal on August 28, near the site of an event also attended by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Sinha was heard instructing a group of policemen, “Utha utha ke maarna peeche sabko (Hit them hard)… We shall not allow this cordon to be breached. We have enough force available… Mere paas ek bhi banda nikal ke nahin aana chahiye. Agar aaye toh sar foota hua hona chahiye uska (No one should break the cordon and reach me. If someone does, make sure he has a broken head).”
With the state government facing criticism over the crackdown, which left several farmers injured, Khattar had sought to defend Sinha’s remarks by saying, “Although the officer’s choice of words was not correct, strictness had to be maintained to ensure that the law and order situation there was kept under check.”
Sinha was later transferred by the government.
To review the security arrangements ahead of the September 7 protest, DGP, PK Agrawal, visited Karnal on Saturday and held a meeting with the senior police officers there. On the demand of the farmers for action against officials, the DGP said the farmer leaders have held talks with the DC and the SP in this regard. He said: “We will hold preparations… The protest should be peaceful and law and order should be honoured.”
Karnal DC, Nishant Kumar Yadav, said, “We will deal strictly with anyone who tries to interrupt official work or block the roads.”
Senior farmer leader, Balbir Singh Rajewal, while addressing the farmer mahapanchayant in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday said, “If the government doesn’t lodge an FIR against the officer (who ordered a lathicharge on farmers) under Section 302 (murder), the Haryana farmers will gherao the Mini Secretariat there…(Karnal) is the constituency of the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Every CM deputes officers of his choice in his constituency. It is learnt that the officer is nephew of an RSS worker.”
Traffic to be diverted on GT road
Keeping in view the farmers’ protest, the district administration has anticipated disruption of traffic on the Chandigarh-Delhi National Highway (NH-44) — which is also called GT road — in Karnal district. “Citizens are advised to use this road only if it is necessary,” said a spokesperson of the administration. The administration has also decided to divert the traffic on the GT Road — from Pipli Chowk (Kurukshetra) and Pepsi Pool (Panipat) to avoid inconvenience to commuters on September 7.
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