Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav spent over 10 hours in police detention on Wednesday along with several other farmers who were part of the Sirsa protest against Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala. After being released, Yadav told The Indian Express that it was time for Haryana to force Chautalas to choose between “kursi or kisan”.
Why were you picked up by the police this morning and what all happened inside the police station?
Today morning (Wednesday) around 10 am, police picked up around 200 farmers in two-three batches. While 125 farmers were brought to Sirsa Sadar police station, another 150 were taken to Ding mandi police station. Those were released after three-four hours. But those who were brought to Sirsa Sadar police station included the main leadership. I was also among them. They kept me out considering that it will make national news, but they identified seven farmer leaders and said that they will be arrested on various charges.
These included Mandeep Nathwan of Haryana Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and Prahlad Singh Bharulhera of Haryana Kisan Manch – the two main mobilisers besides a few others. Police played a trick that they will be taken for a coronavirus test, which is a normal protocol these days once a person is arrested. That was the time when farmers who were outside the police station gheraoed the police station and said that either they should also be arrested or all those who were inside the police station must be released. Police then started telling me that they did not detain me and I should go. But, I also put my foot down and said that unless all of us are released, I would also not go out. While this was going on, farmers blocked the national highway and various other roads in Ratia and other places. Then, the administration started talking to us that they would release everybody but we should not continue the dharna. But we said that we will continue the dharna. So, after several rounds of conversations, everyone of us was released.
We will resume the dharna Thursday morning. We will shift our dharna from the chowk to another spot about 50 metres away. Police have requested us that we should shift our dharna spot so that the main Sirsa-Barnala highway is not jammed. But, troubling commuters was never our intention. But, the dharna will continue.
Who all are going to join you?
Rajasthan’s CPM MLA from Bhadra, Balwan Punia, and Madhya Pradesh’s famous Kisan leader, Dr Suneelam, also reached Sirsa today and supported us. Although, both of them have gone back but rest all of us are going to be here at the dharna. I have also told the farmers that if their dharna continues, I will stand with them. It is like they say – one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
For how many days, you are going to be in Haryana?
I have told farmers that I will stand with them till the time they want. Because there was a requirement to make a pakka morcha. For instance, what Punjab farmers did. They camped outside Prakash Singh Badal’s residence. The same is required to be done. I say that Punjab has taken the first wicket in the first over, now Haryana needs to take the second wicket. With this victory, I must say that we are grateful to Haryana for this immense support. The farmers’ movement of Punjab forced Akalis to come out. The same required to be done for Chautala.
But why JJP and Dushyant are on the target of farmers?
Because same as the Badals, JJP and Dushyant Chautala claim to be farmers’ representatives. That’s the only reason we are targeting JJP and Dushyant. Khattar never claims to be a farmer leader. They (Chautalas) lay claim to the legacy of Chaudhary Devi Lal and that’s why are giving them the option to choose between kursi and kisan.
Dushyant is not in Sirsa, he is under self-isolation in Chandigarh. Then why protest in Sirsa?
Yes. Initially, when this dharna was announced, he would have thought that it would die down as a local affair and he said that he would welcome the farmers at his doorstep and answer all their questions. Day before yesterday, when he realised that there were thousands of farmers coming to Sirsa and we issued 10 questions for him, that day he left for Chandigarh. He says that he has coronavirus and we have no reason to disbelieve him. But, people in Sirsa say that they feel that it was a cooked up story. Sirsa is Chaudhary Devi Lal’s karmbhoomi and the whole politics is in the name of Chaudhary Devi Lal. This is the land. Thus, we decided that we would challenge you (Dushyant) in your land and then ask you to make your choice.
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