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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Jhajjar: Water cannons fired on protesting farmers ahead of Haryana deputy CM’s event

Amid heavy police and paramilitary deployment, hundreds of farmers carrying black flags gathered around 8 am near the government post graduate Nehru college, where Dushyant Chautala was supposed to arrive at 11 am for an event.

Written by Pavneet Singh Chadha , Sukhbir Siwach | Gurgaon |
Updated: October 2, 2021 11:48:33 am
Police use water cannon to disperse protesters ahead of Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala's programme in Jhajjar on Oct, 1, 2021. (Express Photo: Manoj Dhaka)

The Haryana Police on Friday used water cannons to disperse farmers who were protesting with black flags and marching to a venue where Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala was scheduled to attend an event at Jhajjar on Friday morning.

Amid heavy police and paramilitary deployment, hundreds of farmers carrying black flags gathered around 8 am near the government post-graduate Nehru college, where Chautala was supposed to arrive at 11 am for an event. Anticipating protests from farmer groups, the administration had cordoned off the entire area with multiple layers of barricading to halt the movement of farmers.

According to a farmer leader from Jhajjar, Ram Chander Yadav, the farmers had to break police barricades twice when the authorities did not allow their movement towards a government college at Jhajjar where Chautala was scheduled to attend a function. “No prior information was shared with the general public about the function of Dushyant Chautala at Jhajjar but somehow we came to know about it. Following the directions of Samyukt Kisan Morcha, we decided to stage a protest against Chautala during his visit,” said Yadav, district president of All India Kisan Sabha.

The farmers said that they requested the district administration and police officers to allow them to peacefully protest within a 100-metre radius of the venue.

“About 500 farmers, the majority from Dhasa toll and several khaps, had arrived at the venue. The officials kept stalling our request and did not allow us to move to the front of the venue for a peaceful protest. They were denying our democratic right to protest. When our request was denied, we started marching towards the venue and broke through two barricades. They used water cannons for 20 minutes and detained about 30 farmers in buses. Some paramilitary officials used some force to push us back to try and disperse us,” said Daljeet Singh Dagar, general secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Delhi, adding that no one suffered serious injuries.

Protesters march ahead of Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala’s programme in Jhajjar on Oct, 1, 2021. (Express Photo: Manoj Dhaka)

“We had urged the administration to allow the protesters to go near the venue peacefully so that we can register our protest. But the police had installed barricades at all roads leading to the venue. Despite stiff resistance by the heavy police force and use of water cannons, the protesters reached near the venue. Nearly 200 metres from the venue, the policemen had formed a human wall to halt movement of the protesters. Ultimately, senior officers of administration allowed 19 protesters, including six women, to move ahead to register the protest. They showed black flags to Chautala at the time of his entry to the venue and exit from there,” Yadav said.

Sources said around 10 am, the farmers, including women and senior citizens, holding black flags, removed and breached the first barricade and marched ahead. As they proceeded towards the second line of barricading, the police fired water cannons to disperse the protesters. Several protesters were hauled up in buses and detained.

The farmers alleged that sewer water was used in water cannons.

“This is dictatorship. It is shameful that they used sewer water in the cannons on us [farmers]. This is disrespectful. Which government treats anndatas like this? But we remain defiant and will continue to protest till these black laws are repealed. Wherever these leaders attend government events, we will block roads and protest peacefully,” said Baljit Singh, a farmer from Sangrur, who had come from Singhu border.

Jhajjar Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Shikha denied that dirty water was used in water cannons. “This is incorrect. It was normal water.”

After half an hour, the farmers and administration officials discussed the matter and mediated a solution, allowing 15 protesters, including five women, to sit in front of the venue for a peaceful protest.

“About 100-150 farmers carrying black flags had gathered for the protest. When they pushed through the barricades, a single water cannon was used to disperse them to prevent a law and order situation. After mediation, 15 protesters were allowed to peacefully register their protest outside the venue. The protesters left after the deputy CM went to another venue,” the SDM said.

She added that some farmers were detained, but the exact number was not known.

Despite repeated attempts and a text message, Jhajjar Deputy Commissioner Shyam Lal Poonia could not be contacted for comment.

In a video on social media, speaking to mediapersons earlier in the day, Poonia had said, “This is a democracy and everyone has a right to raise their voice peacefully. I appeal to farmers to conduct the protest in a peaceful way. We are also bound by our duty and you [farmers] are also bound by yours.”

The protesters showed black flags to the Deputy CM when he arrived at the event later.

“Only after water cannon visuals were shared on media and administration officials received reports that more farmers will soon arrive at the venue, they allowed 15 of us to peacefully protest. We showed black flags to the deputy CM and registered our protest. We left only after he exited the venue. He should resign from his post considering he has supported these anti-farmer laws,” said Dagar.

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