In a swoop, UP, Haryana cops evict protesting farmers from highway sites
Two days after violence shook Delhi on the Republic Day during the tractor parade by agitating farmers protesting against three farm laws, the police have started a crackdown on the farmers. In a midnight swoop on Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat police reached the protest site in the district and allegedly lathi-charged the sleeping farmers. Video clips show the Delhi-Saharanpur highway being cleared by force.
The Baghpat administration, however, maintained that they got a protest site vacated after receiving a request from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) which said that it had to complete a pending construction work.
“The NHAI had written to us about their pending work being obstructed due to the protests. We got the site vacated. The protesters, including a few elderly people, left the site peacefully,” said Baghpat Additional District Magistrate Amit Kumar Singh.
“We did not use any force to remove the protesters. The elderly people, including a mentally unsound person, were sent to their homes,” he added.
On Ghazipur border near UP as well, the police cut off power as fresh reinforcements arrived.
Despite the late-night police action, the farmers have vowed to continue the protest. They claimed their protest had not weakened.
Bablu Kumar, a farmer sitting on the border, said, “The police deployed heavy force amid a power blackout. Some media persons were attacked by the UP Police. The situation is tensed.”
Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson for the Bhartiya Kisan Union, told The Federal farmers have thinned out, and that the police want to take advantage of the situation. “The police want to get the area vacated. After what happened on the Republic day, enthusiasm among farmers is on the wane. They are confused as the leaders like VM Singh have left the movement. But farmers will come back,” said Tikait.
Haryana Police too have acted tough. At Daruhera near Gurugram in Haryana, a small gathering of farmers was removed and shifted to Shahjahanpur border. The state police have also removed the protesting farmers from toll plazas at Karnal in Haryana. Additional police force has been deployed at Singhu and Tikri borders.
Delhi Police have filed an FIR against many farmer leaders — Darshan Pal, Rajinder Singh, Balbir Singh Rajewal, Buta Singh, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni, Rakesh Tikait and Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav for violating the guidelines issued for the tractor parade.
Delhi Police said 200 people have been detained for the violence in the national capital. The police registered FIRs under IPC Sections 395 (dacoity), 397 (robbery, or dacoity, with an attempt to cause death or grievous hurt), 120 b (punishment for criminal conspiracy) and other sections. These cases will be investigated by Crime Branch.
An FIR filed against farmer leaders mentions multiple IPC sections, including Section 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 353 (assault/criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty). A police officer in the FIR has alleged protestors tried to kill him by running him over with a tractor which broke through the barricades.
At least 20 farmer leaders have been issued show-cause notice to which they have to reply within three days.
However, the farmer leaders have disassociated themselves from the violence and blamed the government for hatching a conspiracy to defame a peaceful movement.
“We’ll expose the conspiracy in the coming days. We obeyed the police-approved route plan, but we encountered barricades. Members of the Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee stood ahead of these barricades to sabotage our protest. Sangharsh Committee members and Deep Sidhu are responsible for what happened at the Red Fort,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, a farmer leader.