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Farmers protest: What went wrong in Hisar and how was the matter finally resolved?

The standoff between the farm protesters and local authorities following a massive clash at Hisar was finally resolved Monday. A look at what went wrong, and how the matter was resolved.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 27, 2021 9:19:08 am
Haryana police arrest farmers in Hisar on May 16, 2021. (Express Photo: Manoj Dhaka)

After intense efforts by the government, the standoff between the farm protesters and local authorities following a massive clash at Hisar was finally resolved Monday. The Indian Express explains what went wrong, and how the matter was finally resolved.

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How did a trust deficit develop between farmers and administration?

Hisar had witnessed a violent clash between protesting farmers and policemen over the visit of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on May 16, which had left dozens injured from both sides. Later that day, there was a round of talks between the administration and farmer leaders when the farmers gheraoed the residence of the Hisar IGP to protest the lathicharge on them. After the meeting, farmer leaders claimed that “neither farmers nor policemen will lodge complaints over the incident”.

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The police officers did not deny their assertions. After two days, BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said the administration had “betrayed” them, when an FIR was lodged against the farmers. He said the FIR was lodged despite a “compromise” between farmers and police.

After Chaduni’s allegations, the police claimed that no such assurance was given to them. They also issued a detailed statement. As a result, the villagers led by farmers started announcing “boycott” of the Covid lockdown in several villages of Hisar.

Farmers on the way to Hisar to stage a demonstration after an FIR was filed on the May 16 clash. (Express Photo: Manoj Dhaka)

What did the farmers do next?

The growing anger among farmers charged farm protesters across the state. There were calls to gather at Hisar for a protest on May 24. An impression was gaining ground that there may be another Singhu border-like situation — thousands of farmers are camping since November on Delhi borders — at Hisar if the standoff was not resolved immediately. Farmers who were talking about the pandemic earlier, suddenly became active and began mobilising their resources for a long struggle in Hisar.

What did the state government do?

The state government asked Hisar Divisional Commissioner Chander Shekhar to resolve the matter to defuse the emerging tension. An IAS officer, Shekhar is said to be well-versed with sentiments of people from rural areas. During his previous postings as deputy commissioner of Kaithal and Faridabad and during his stint in the panchayat and education departments, he spent 54 nights in the villages alongwith several officers to ascertain and resolve the difficulties faced by villagers. It is learnt that the commissioner started contacting farmer leaders to know their point of view. Hisar DC Priyanka Soni and DIG Balwan Singh Rana also held dialogues with farm protesters at a dharna venue. Feelers were sent to farmer leaders for further talks.

Personnel in Hisar on May 24. (Express Photo: Manoj Dhaka)

What happened on May 24?

Anticipating a massive turnout of farmers during their protest on May 24, the government had deployed heavy police force apart from paramilitary personnel. But the administration was keen on resolving the standoff through dialogue. The farmers did not march to commissioner’s office from local Krantiman Park as the local officers had already landed there with an invitation for a dialogue. At the meeting, the farmer leaders spoke for almost two hours. Chander Shekhar also expressed condolence over the death of a farmer during the protest.

When the administration agreed for withdrawal of the FIR lodged against 350 farmers preferably within a month and a contractual job to a family member of the deceased farmer, the farmer leaders requested that the DC should make this announcement among the protesting farmers who were waiting for the outcome of the meeting for the past seven hours. The administration agreed to send an SDM (sub-divisional magistrate) to the venue of farmers’ protest where the farmer leaders detailed the outcome of their meeting with the administration. Later, an official statement was also issued regarding the outcome of the meeting.

The Hisar outcome highlighted the need for transparency in communicating the outcome of meetings between the protesters and government. Police officials believe that provocative statements made by some elements in the name of farmers through social media were instrumental in instigating the agitators on May 16, which led to clashes between the farmers and police.

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