On the eve of the next round of talks between the protesting farmer unions and the Centre on Monday, the Haryana police on Sunday fired tear gas shells to stop a group of farmers, mostly from Rajasthan, from moving towards Delhi.
The incident occurred near Sangwari village in Rewari district, on NH-48, about 16 km from Gurgaon, at around 4 pm.
Confirming that tear gas shells were fired, Rajesh Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Bawal, said: “The protesters said those who had gone ahead did not have enough provisions. They asked for permission to go to them and set up a langar, and were allowed to do so. However, when they got there, the entire group tried to break through the barricades and move forward.”
On Thursday, over 300 farmers had forced their way past the barricades at the Rajasthan-Haryana border and entered Rewari. On Sunday, about 50 more farmers, mostly from Hanumangarh and Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan, followed them, after which police fired tear gas shells.
Most of the protesters, however, remained at the border. “About 15-20 tractors entered Rewari today… they had a clash with police. However, those of us following the directions of the Samyukt Kisan Union are still at the border and will continue to remain there. The next course of action will be decided depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s meeting with the government. If they don’t fulfill our demands, we will look at moving towards Delhi after January 6,” said Ramzan Chaudhary, head of the Nuh unit of Jai Kisan Andolan, which is a part of the Samyukt Kisan Union — the umbrella body of farmer unions protesting at Delhi’s borders.
Ahead of their talks with the government, the farmer leaders reiterated their demands on Monday. “Our demands remain the same. The farm laws must be repealed. The two amendments need to be rolled back and the government must listen. Our agitation will continue,” Jageer Singh Dalewal, BKU, told The Indian Express.
“On January 13, we have a Lohri programme in which we will burn copies of the three farm laws. On January 18, we invite everyone to carry out protests as they deem fit. We also want to tell the Punjab government that if they don’t stop lathicharge and police action against people in the state, there will be protests against them. We are against both the BJP and Congress, since this is an issue of the farmers,” said Manjit Rai, BKU, Doaba, at a press conference in Singhu.
In New Delhi, Agriculture Ministry officials worked over the weekend to prepare for the next round of talks. An official said the government is “extremely concerned” and wants a “positive outcome”.
The farmers are demanding repeal of the three newly enacted farm laws and provision of legal guarantee on the minimum support price for procurement.
Meanwhile, three deaths were reported at the Singhu and Tikri borders, where farmers have been camping for over a month now. Jagbir, 66, from Jind district, and Jashnpreet, 18, from Bathinda, died in Tikri.
“Jashnpreet was brought to the civil hospital in a delirious condition on Saturday night. After initial treatment, he was referred to PGIMS, Rohtak, where he died,” said a Jhajjar police officer.
“In the other incident, the body was found inside a truck at the protest site itself. It is suspected that he died of a heart attack,” he said.
The protester who died in Singhu was identified as Shamsher, 44, a farmer from Sangrur. “Shamsher died at around 8 am, after he complained of chest pain. He was taken to Sonipat where he was declared dead. A Dalit farmer, he had been protesting with his 13-year-old son,” said Jagmohan Singh of BKU-Dakaunda.
With ENS, New Delhi
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