A peaceful farmers' protest against the Haryana CM in Karnal was met with a brutal lathi-charge by the Haryana Police on Saturday.
The farrmers’ march in Karnal, on the call of the BKU-Chaduni faction, to protest against the Haryana Chief Minister’s visit in the district, was met with a police lathicharge on Saturday, videos which that surfaced on social media show.
The police indiscriminately lathi-charged the farmers at the Bastara toll plaza near Gharaunda. It asked the farmers to disperse but they did not agree, leading to the police action. Reports mention that many farmers sustained head injuries and fractures due to the brutal police action. Some farmers ran into the fields to avoid the police action but they were chased down; the police also ransacked farmers' vehicles parked in the area.
Condemning the police action on farmers, Gurnam Singh Chaduni of the BKU gave a call to stage blockades at all the toll plazas in Haryana.
The police action comes a day after a two-day national convention organised to mark nine months of the farmers’ protests at the borders of the national capital, which saw a renewed attempt by the protesting groups to intensify the movement against the contentious Farm Laws. The convention, which concluded on Friday, saw major decisions taken by the farmers’ unions to sustain the agitation on a pan-India level.
The Haryana state secretariat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has strongly condemned the barbaric lathi-charge by the Haryana Police. Party state secretary Surendra Singh said that the peasant movement could be suppressed by such repression.
‘Bharat Bandh’ on September 25
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) – a coming together of protesting farmers’ bodies – that is spearheading the agitation at Delhi's borders, on Friday gave the call for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on September 25. The Morcha has called upon its units in all districts across the country to hold conventions, rallies and demonstrations at toll plazas to register their anger against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)–led Central Government.
The decision for a bandh was announced on Friday in a press conference held at the Singhu Border, where the national convention was organised. As many as 90 speakers from various farmers unions, agriculture workers, trade unions, women, students, youth and 2000-old delegates were part of it.
Dr. Ashish Mittal, convenor, Organising Committee of the convention, told the media that it was quite “obvious that today the entire farming community is forced to fight the government that is serving corporates and is under the control of MNCs” in all aspects of agriculture, food storage and marketing.
A country-wide ‘resistance’ call was given for the same day last year too by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee – an umbrella group of over 250 farmers’ organisations. The strike call was observed in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Odisha, among other parts of the country.
It was also in September last year when the Bills saw their passage in Parliament, triggering an agitation that later reached Delhi's borders – Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur primarily – later in the month of November.
‘Farm Laws Affect Every Person in Country’
Avik Saha of the Jai Kisan Andolan, who was part of the Convention’s organising committee, told Newsclick on Saturday that the farmers gave a strike call only because they wanted their demands to be heard by the Central Government. “It is important to keep engaging in a peaceful manner with those in powers to reach a solution when there is a deadlock. However, the Central Government's attitude is creating a problem. It is the only reason why we are forced to strike,” he said.
Saha also added that the nationwide call was also significant as the message needed to go out that the agitation was a “nationwide protest.” “The BJP’s position is that this is a protest led by few interest groups. Yet, time and again, we have proved that the issues at hand affect every person in the country,” Saha said.
Farmers fear the three Laws will lead to the “corporatisation” of Indian agriculture and will also lead to the growth of food insecurity in the country. They are demanding a repeal of the three contentious laws, along with a legal guarantee to minimum support price for their crop. Additionally, they are also pressing for the withdrawal of the amendment to the Electricity and Stubble Burning laws in the country.
Significantly, in their press statement on Friday, the SKM also reiterated their opposition to the selling of “country’s assets” while flaying the four Labour Codes, that it said were “an attack on the basic rights of industrial workers.”
“In the name of growth of economy, each and every aspect of human life is being monetised to help profit growth of the Corporate… (sic),” the statement said.
In Muzaffarnagar, Massive Show of Strength Ahead of UP Elections
The protesting organisations also called upon farmers to make their best effort in making the SKM rally on September 5 at Muzaffarnagar a massive show of protest.
Earlier last month, the SKM had announced a “mission” to resist and boycott the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in the poll-bound states, including in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Riding high on the defeat of BJP in West Bengal, where SKM leaders held programmes, the farmers’ group had vowed to formally launch the “mission” with a massive rally in western UP’s Muzaffarnagar.
“We are expecting that 10 lakh people will attend the rally in Muzaffarnagar. It will be a historic moment in which all the SKM leaders will be present,” Dharmendra Malik of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) – Uttar Pradesh faction told Newsclick on Saturday.
Malik added that in the ‘Mission Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand’, the farmers’ organisations while mobilising on farm issues, will also focus on state-level issues.