Chhattisgarh Police Tuesday took several farmer leaders into custody before they could launch a three-day rally on farmer issues across three districts. The administration has clamped Section 144 in Balod, Kabirdham and Rajnandgaon districts.
While government officials said they “had inputs” that the protests could have escalated into a law and order issue, organisers of the protest said their democratic rights were trampled upon and demanded the immediate release of the farmer leaders in jail. While some of the leaders were placed under preventive custody, some were arrested.
Under the aegis of Chhattisgarh Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh and Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, the three-day Sankalp Yatra was to begin on Tuesday from Rajnandgaon.
Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan leader Alok Shukla told The Indian Express, “We were to begin the rally from Rajnandgaon, and reach Raipur by September 21 to demonstrate there.
The demands included giving farmers three years of bonus promised to them, implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, among others. We had even spoken to the administration about the route. But late on Monday night, they began picking up our farmer leaders. Police spread out to prevent farmers from reaching Rajnandgaon. This is completely anti-democratic.”
Senior police officers said Section 144 has been imposed in the three districts and admitted that several arrests were made. Dipanshu Kabra, IG, Durg Range, said, “We arrested 26 people preventively, while 36 others were sent to jail for violation of section 144 under directions of Chief Judicial Magistrate. We had inputs that there could be a law and order problem along highways and that they could act aggressively in Raipur as well.