Nearly 10 people were injured after police allegedly used force against protesting farmers in Haryana on Saturday.
A group of farmers had blocked highway near Karnal against arrest of their brethren by police, disrupting traffic movement on the highway.
The protesting farmers tried to move towards the venue, where Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was holding the meeting with other BJP leaders in Karnal, the police said.
The affected routes included the Fatehabad-Chandigarh, Gohana-Panipat, Jind-Patiala highways, Ambala-Kurukshetra, the Delhi highway near Karnal, Hisar-Chandigarh and Kalka-Zirakpur national highways.
Several commuters were left stranded at highways for hours.
Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni alleged that the police brutally lathicharged the protesting farmers, leaving many injured.
While senior Samyukt Kisan Morcha leader Darshan Pal said the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) had given call for road and toll plaza blockade till 5 pm Saturday to protest injuries to “dozens of farmers” and detaining of some farmers by Karnal police, Chaduni said road blockades will continue till all those detained in Karnal were released.
Several protesters present at the site near the Bastara toll plaza around 15 km from Karnal claimed to have witnessed 8-10 people sustain injuries in the police action.
Karnal police IG Mamta Singh, however said “We used mild force because they were blocking the highway. Some stones were also pelted towards the police. Mild force was used to disperse the protesters”.
She said that some protesters were earlier in the day detained for maintenance of law and order and they were being released.
Farmers protesting the central farm laws have been opposing public functions of the BJP-JJP combine in Haryana. Several farmers had gathered at the Bastara toll plaza near Karnal, responding to a call given by the BKU.
Citing section 144 of the CrPC imposed in the area banning assembly of five or more people, the police made several announcements over loudspeakers, declaring the gathering by the protesters "unlawful".
Initially, they asked the farmers to disperse, but resorted to force as the protesters refused to budge.
The police said the protesters were bent on moving towards the venue of the BJP meeting in Karnal. All roads leading to the venue had been heavily barricaded.
"Many farmers were injured after police brutally lathicharged them without any provocation. Some even could be seen with blood all over their clothes," Chaduni said, strongly condemning the police action.
He said that as part of their ongoing agitation against the farm laws, the farmers had decided to hold a peaceful protest against BJP leaders, for which they had assembled at the Bastara toll plaza.
Chaduni said orders were given by an official that if anyone who tries to head towards the BJP meeting venue should be lathicharged.
The use of force by the police invited severe criticism from various political parties.
Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala condemned the attack and dubbed the BJP-JJP regime as the "General Dyer government".
"CM-Dy CM's conspiracy to attack farmers in Karnal is clear from the orders of the Duty Magistrate, who is ordering the police to break the heads of farmers and lash them with sticks. BJP-JJP is the 'General Dyer' government," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
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"Khattar Sahib, Today in Karnal sticks have been blown on the soul of every Haryanvi. The oppression of the sinful BJP government that bleeds farmers is like demons. The coming generations will remember the blood from farmers' bodies flown on the streets," he said in another tweet.
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"Guru Modi ji inaugurated the Jallianwala Bagh light and sound show in Punjab today and disciple Khattar ji got the General Dyer-like barbaric act live telecast by lathi-charging the farmers in Karnal,” he added.
Indian National Lok Dal senior leader Abhay Singh Chautala also strongly condemned the police action.
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à¤¹à¤®à¤¾à¤°à¤¾ à¤¬à¤¯à¤¾à¤¨ :- pic.twitter.com/YNjbjbhjQu— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 28, 2021
Swaraj India president and key leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha Yogendra Yadav said the lathicharge exposed the true face of the Haryana Police.
Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda described the police action “not only undemocratic, but inhuman too”.
“While farmers were 15 km away from the site (of BJP meet), the police action shows the intentions of the government which seems to have made up its mind to beat up the farmers. There should be an impartial investigation into this whole incident and strict action should be taken against the culprits,” he said.
Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja said the lathicharge was extremely shameful and condemnable. (With PTI inputs)