Lucknow: Following the incidents of January 26 during which a group of farmers broke away from the tractor parade to enter the Red Fort in the national capital, the Uttar Pradesh Police have reportedly uprooted tents of farmers who had been protesting against the farm laws on the Delhi-Saharanpur highway near Baghpat for the last 40 days.
Over a dozen agitating farmers reportedly sustained injuries when the police, in the middle of the night of January 27, allegedly resorted to baton charge on farmers and confiscated blankets and even food items from protesting farmers in the Baraut area of Baghpat district. The protest site was occupied by the Bharatiya Kisan Union-affiliated farmers since December 19. Brajpal Singh, who was leading the protest was arrested along with few other farmers.
Meanwhile, Baghpat additional district magistrate (ADM) Amit Kumar Singh has said that the action was taken to vacate the protest site after receiving a request from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that it had to complete pending construction work.
"We have peacefully removed the protesters (from the Delhi-Saharanpur Highway) after NHAI had written a letter to district administration requesting for completion of their work which was being delayed and obstructed due to the ongoing farmers' protest. Following the complaint, we had come here to get the site vacated," the ADM reportedly said, adding that they did not use any force to remove the protesters.
Also read: Far From Delhi in the Hinterlands of Haryana, Pressure Mounts Over Protesting Farmers
However, on being questioned about how the farmers sustained injuries when the police officials conducted a 'peaceful' evacuation, the ADM denied the allegations of injury and emphasised that no force was used to vacate the protest site.
Further, the UP Police have registered a case against unknown persons for obstructing work on the highway.
Ranjit Singh (name changed), a farmer said that the district administration in the past, too, had tried to evict protesters from the spot and farmers protesting across Western UP. "This action happened in the middle of the night in the presence of the District Magistrate (DM) and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP). JCBs were used by the administration to remove cement slabs which had been installed there to block the highway. Tents used by the farmers were also removed," he told NewsClick, adding that the cops wielded lathis on farmers when they were asleep and unconscious.
Accusing the cops of attacking farmers at late night, Rajendra Chaudhary, chief of a khap (caste council) said, "A stampede ensued at the protest site as soon as the police arrived with forces. The police forcibly took away the goods and blankets of the farmers. During this, elderly Sumer Singh was severely injured by police sticks. Other farmers, too, have suffered injuries in the chaos.”
The farmers have alleged that the police and administration are accusing farmers of this region for the unprecedented violence during the tractor parade by farmers on Republic day in Delhi. They further alleged that the district administration is identifying farmers to serve notice.
"It is a murder of democracy. Efforts are being made to suppress the voice of farmers. The decision of the farmers of the district will be taken forward. The farmers are being consulted for further planning," one of the farmers said.
Other then Baraut in Baghpat, the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government has also removed the ongoing farmers' protests from Chilla border and Rashtriya Prerna Sthal and Green Garden in Noida. Following January 26, Thakur Bhanu Pratap Singh, president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu), who was protesting at Chilla border against farm laws announced that they are ending the protest.
Notably, the Delhi Police has named Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, along with other farmer leaders, in an FIR in an attempt to crackdown against the perpetrators behind the clash in Delhi on Republic Day.