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Social Media Accounts Suspended, Govt Trying To Suppress Our Voice: Farmer Leader Pandher

Protesting farmers have stayed put at Shambhu and Khanauri points on Punjab's border with Haryana for the fourth day after their 'Delhi Chalo' march to press the Centre for various demands, including a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops, was stopped by security forces which led to clashes.

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Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher accused the Centre of trying to suppress the voices of the protesters Photo: Getty Images
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Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher on Friday accused the Centre of trying to "suppress" the voices of the protesters, claiming social media accounts of farmers and YouTubers have been suspended.

Protesting farmers have stayed put at Shambhu and Khanauri points on Punjab's border with Haryana for the fourth day after their 'Delhi Chalo' march to press the Centre for various demands, including a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops, was stopped by security forces which led to clashes.

Union ministers and farmer leaders met on February 8, 12 and 15 to discuss the farmer unions' demands but the talks remained inconclusive. The two sides will meet again on February 18 for a fourth round of talks. Talking to reporters on Friday, Pandher said that during the meeting with Union ministers a day ago, "we raised the issue of the suspension of Internet and Twitter (now X) handles of farmer leaders".

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Also alleging that the government has suspended the accounts of around 70 YouTubers who were showing farmers' protest, he said it appears "the government wants to suppress our voice."

Pandher said that during the talks with the Union ministers, they raised the issue of the use of "force" against farmers by the paramilitary personnel deployed at the Punjab-Haryana border who fired tear gas shells at the protesters.

He claimed that around 70 farmers have sustained serious injuries in an action by Haryana security personnel at Shambhu and Khanauri borders. The farmer leader said the talks with the Union ministers were held in a positive atmosphere and various demands of the protesters, including a law on MSP and debt waiver, were discussed.

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The government said they wanted to continue talks, Pandher said, adding that their 'Delhi Chalo' call still stands and the protesters were staying put at the Punjab-Haryana border so that a solution emerges through talks. On Thursday, Pandher said during the meeting with ministers they raised the issue of tear gas shelling by the paramilitary forces on farmers at the Shambhu and Khanuri borders. He said they showed the shells to the ministers during the meeting.

Haryana Police on Friday again fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesting farmers when they moved towards the barricades at the Shambhu border near Ambala. Farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal demanded the release of farmers who were either arrested or detained by the Haryana police.

Besides a legal guarantee of MSP, the farmers are demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.

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