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New Delhi: There appears to be no immediate end in sight to the standoff between the Haryana farmers and the state government over the issue of lathicharge on protesting farmers in Karnal on Saturday, as chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday, August 30, defended the police action.
Meanwhile, farmers continued with their protests and also organised a mahapanchayat in Karnal where they demanded registration of police cases against officers involved in the cane charge which left many of them injured and one farmer allegedly died.
Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, Khattar came out in support of the police action, which had left 10 people injured and one dead (as per farmers, though superintendent of police Karnal denied it), saying: “Strictness had to be maintained to ensure law and order situation there was kept under check.”
When asked about sub-divisional magistrate Ayush Sinha’s viral video in which he was seen instructing police personnel manning a barricade to “smash the heads” of those who may try to cross it, Khattar only insisted that the IAS officer’s “choice of words” was “not correct”.
However, to persistent questions on any action that his government may be contemplating against the officer, as had also been assured by deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala on Sunday, Khattar only said that “if any action has to be taken, it would first have to be assessed by the district administration”.
He added that the director general of police (DGP) was looking into the matter, but reiterated that “to maintain law and order, strictness had to be ensured.”
Khattar, who in the past too had criticised sections of farmers for disrupting political party meetings and movement of political leaders, again used the same argument to ask why a section of the farmers decided to proceed to the Karnal hotel where the BJP was organising a meeting on Saturday. He said the farmers should realise that “they are not gaining anything out of such protests”.
He also claimed that the farmer’s agitation was losing people’s support. “People are no longer sympathetic towards them and I have been getting phone calls that they need to be dealt with strictly. But we are exercising restraint because they are our people,” he said.
Meanwhile, farmers organised a protest demonstration outside the Press Club in Chandigarh, where Khattar addressed the media on completion of 2,500 days of his government.
A mahapanchayat was also organised by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, Bharatiya Kisan Union and other farmers organisations in Karnal where they demanded that FIRs (first information reports) be registered against those involved in the lathicharge.
Addressing the gathering, the head of the Haryana unit of BKU, Gurnam Singh Charuni said the patience of the farmers had run out and they would not let anyone beat them with lathis anymore. He said the farmers would gherao the Mini Secretariat in Karnal from September 7 if their demands were not met.
Charuni also urged the farmers to reach a mahapanchayat called in Uttar Pradesh on September 5 in large numbers.
The meeting also called upon the Haryana government to book all those involved in the violence against the farmers. It was decided that FIRs should be registered against those involved in the recent lathicharge on farmers.
The farmers also demanded compensation of Rs 25 lakh be paid to the family of Sushil Kajal, a resident of Rampur Jata village, who they claimed was injured in the lathi charge and later succumbed to injuries. The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sabha had on Sunday claimed that the man was killed due to police action. The claim was, however, denied by the superintendent of police of Karnal. The mahapanchayat also demanded that a government job be provided to a son of Kajal.
Apart from this, it demanded payment of Rs 2 lakh in compensation to injured farmers. Charuni said farmers would again assemble in the Karnal grain market on September 7 to review the progress on their demands and decide the future course of action.