Haryana Police Tuesday fired tear gas shells and used water cannons to stop a group of agitating farmers from proceeding towards the residences of Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and Power Minister Ranjit Singh Chautala in Sirsa. The police action came after farmers tried to breach barricades on a road leading to the ministers’ houses barely 150 meters away.
Not allowed to proceed, the farmers sat on a dharna on Sirsa-Barnala Highway and accused the two state government ministers from the Chautala clan of sullying the image of farmers ‘messiah’ Devi Lal.
Before starting their march, the farmers belonging to 17 different peasants’ organisations had held a ‘mahapanchayat’ at the Ram Leela Ground under the aegis of Haryana Kisan Manch. Those who attended the meeting included Bhartiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni, Swaraj India’s Yogendra Yadav and state Kisan Manch president Prahalad Singh.
After the meeting, several farmers from the 17 outfits headed towards the Chautalas’ residences at about 3 pm. They were stopped about 150 . The farmers, agitating against the three central farm laws, have demanded that both the ministers resign from the cabinet.
The clash took when farmers attempted to break the barricades. A few farmers pelted stones at the police following which police used water canons and also fired a few rounds of tear gas.
The clash took place, despite Yogendra Yadav appealing to the farmers not to indulge in violence. “Anybody who wants to disrupt law and order, can leave the agitation. We should not indulge in any mistake that impacts our struggle,” he said.
Earlier, he said their mission is to question “those who call themselves farmers’ messiah, who are heirs of Chaudhary Devi Lal” on whether they choose farmers or their ministerial berth. “If he wants farmers, Dushyant must leave his chair and come among the farmers and stand with them against these three farm legislations that are meant to destroy our future generations. We have only come here to ask Dushyant and Ranjit Singh to come and sit among the farmers and reply to our questions. If they love their chairs so much, then they must stop taking names of Chaudhary Devi Lal and stop calling themselves as farmer leaders. In that case, farmers will deal with you. They know how to deal with people like you,” Yogendra Yadav said.
Giving vent to his anger against the uncle-nephew duo, Bhartiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni lamented that while late Deputy PM Devi Lal always fought for farmers, both Ranjit and his nephew Dushyant were busy “enjoying pleasures of power”, “ignoring” farmers’ interests.
“Both are bringing disrespect to the name of farmers ‘messiah’ Devi Lal by misusing his name in the garb of the peasantry,” said Prahalad Singh.
Kisan Sangharsh Samiti convener Mandeep Nathwan said, “Farmers have decided to set up a pakka morcha near the houses of Dushyant and Ranjeet Singh. We will not remove the morcha till they resign from Cabinet. They have to choose between ‘kursi’ (ministership) and farmers. In coming days, farmers won’t allow entry of those leaders who support anti-farmer laws”.
Some farmers alleged that Haryana Police had deployed women officers in the front line to stop the protestors. “Haryana government has stooped so low. When there is no woman protesting here among us, why have they deployed women police in the front line? It is a shameful tactic used by Haryana police,” one of the protesting farmers told media persons in Sirsa.
Meanwhile, INLD MLA Abhay Singh Chautala condemned the use of tear gas shells and water cannons on protesting farmers by the police.
BKU (Dakonda) too condemned the police action with outfit’s Punjab unit president Buta Singh Burzgill and general secretary Jagmohan Singh Patiala saying that the struggle will not be suppressed even if protesting farmers are sent to jail. Protests and dharnas will be held Wednesday in Punjab to oppose the police action on farmers, they added.
On September 11 too, Haryana police had resorted to cane charge on farmers in Pipli, Kurukshetra as the farmers were protesting and had blocked the highways.
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