Updated: May 17, 2021 7:13:45 am
SEVERAL HUNDRED farmers clashed with the police in Hisar where Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar inaugurated a 500-bed hospital for Covid-19 patients around noon on Sunday. Over 20 police personnel had to be taken to hospital for treatment, and as many as 70 farmers received injuries.
A similar clash had happened on January 10 this year in Kaimla village in Karnal when farmers had stormed the helipad where Khattar was to land. Then too, several on both sides met with injuries.
On Sunday, as the Chief Minister landed around 10 am in Hisar, farmers who have been sitting for months in protest against the three farm laws at a toll plaza in Mayyar, started marching towards the open ground venue at OP Jindal
Modern School. They shouted anti-government slogans and were angry with Khattar and some other ministers for holding farmers responsible for spreading Covid-19 infection in villages.
Having reached close to the inauguration venue, when the farmers broke a few barricades and started pelting stones, the police fired tear gas shells and opened cane charge to disperse them.
The police also detained some 85 farmers. “In the clashes, 20 personnel including five policewomen and a DSP were injured,” said a Hisar police spokesperson. DGP Manoj Yadava said in a tweet the police displayed patience and bravery in confronting the unruly mob and “saving the newly inaugurated Sanjeevni COVID Hospital at hisar from damage”.
Farmer leader Vikas Sisar said over 70 farmers who were part of the protest received injuries.
Condemning the attack on farmers, Bharatiya Kisan Union President Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, called upon farmers to block all national highways and gherao the office of the Inspector General of Police. “When Covid regulations are imposed, how can a huge crowd be allowed to assemble at the venue today. Videos in social media show a crowd of over 500 persons. Why couldn’t the inauguration be done online?”
He said that Khattar and some of his ministers were blaming the farmers for spreading the infection in villages. “We knew they would tarnish our image the way they did with the Tablighis. But the virus is spreading due to people working in Delhi, Gurgaon and Faridabad. When they come back to villages, then it spreads,” Chaduni said.
However, after a meeting between farmer leader Rakesh Tikait and Hisar IGP Rakesh Kumar Arya, the road blockade in Haryana was lifted by 7 pm. “They (the police) have agreed not to press any charges on protesters who were held and agreed to release them. Farmer unions have said they will repair the police vehicles damaged during the clash,” Tikait said. Farmers detained by the police were released soon after.