Farmer dies as massive violence erupts in Haryana

Farmer dies as massive violence erupts in Haryana

'Delhi Chalo' march put on hold for 2 days

Chandigarh: Farmers leaders on Wednesday put the 'Delhi Chalo' march on hold for two days after a protester was killed and about 12 police personnel injured in clashes at Khanauri, one of the two protest sites on the Punjab-Haryana border.

Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said that they will decide the next course of action on Friday evening. Punjab farmers at Khanauri and Shambhu had resumed their agitation early in the morning after a two-day lull following the fourth round of talks on Sunday night with a panel of three Union ministers in an attempt to break the deadlock.

Police fired tear gas shells at the two border points multiple times to disperse groups of protesters when they attempted to move towards the layers of barricades stalling their march to the national capital. Earlier in the day, Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, who is among the Union ministers engaging with the farmer leaders, called for further talks and appealed to the protesters to maintain peace.

Thousands of farmers remain camped at Khanauri and Shambhu with their tractor-trolleys and trucks agitating for their demands, including a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) for crops and farm debt waiver. Farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa identified the dead farmer as Subhkaran Singh (21), a resident of Baloke village in Punjab’s Bathinda district.

Patiala-based Rajindra Hospital’s medical superintendent H S Rekhi told reporters that three people, one of them dead, were brought to the hospital from Khanauri. The deceased had an injury to his head and the other two are stable, Rekhi said and added that the exact cause of death will be known after postmortem.

A Haryana Police spokesperson said around 12 police personnel were injured when they were attacked with lathis and stones thrown at them in Khanauri, located in Punjab’s Sangrur district, close to the border with Haryana’s Jind.

The protesters also poured chilli powder on stubble and set it on fire after surrounding the security personnel, the official said. Due to the smoke, the personnel deputed in the area faced difficulty in breathing and irritation in the eyes, the spokesperson said. Talking to reporters at Shambhu, Pandher said farmers will review the situation that developed at Khanauri. “We will discuss the whole issue and the next decision will be announced on Friday evening,” he said. The farmers claimed that Haryana Police personnel fired rubber bullets, besides tear gas shells.

Heavy earthmoving equipment, including excavators, and modified tractors were seen at the protest sites, and police had cautioned that these might be used to break barricades and cause harm to security personnel.

Many protesting farmers were seen wearing masks and glasses to protect themselves from tear gas. Drones were used by police to keep an eye on the activities of the farmers on the other side of the barricades and drop tear gas shells. During the last round of talks, which ended past midnight Sunday, the panel of three Union ministers -- Munda, Piyush Goyal and Nityananad Rai -- had proposed buying five crops -- moong dal, urad dal, tur dal, maize and cotton -- from farmers at MSP for five years through central agencies. Munda exuded confidence that a solution to the demands of the farmers can be found through negotiations. “Farmers are across the country. While making a policy, it is important to keep in mind the interest of the farmers of the entire country. Keeping this in mind, we will work towards resolving their concerns in the coming days,” he said.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha are spearheading the protest. Several farmer organisations condoled the death of the farmer. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has held the government responsible for the situation and called a meeting on Thursday.

“The SKM strongly protests the brutal police repression and murder of farmer Subhkaran Singh of Baloke village, Bhatinda district, in police firing in the Haryana-Punjab border,” it said in a statement.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condoled the death of the farmer. Gandhi said history will certainly demand an account of farmers’ killings from the BJP.

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