New Delhi: In what can be called an unprecedented show of strength and victory, two farmer leaders from Haryana, Ravi Azad and Vikas Shishar, were released Sunday midnight after protesters began camping outside Tohana Sadar Police Station in Haryana’s Fatehabad district, demanding the release of their leaders and others.
Both the leaders were arrested after they protested against Tohana MLA Devendra Singh Babli from Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a collective of over 40 farmer organisations, has called for social boycott of the saffron party and its allies in protest against three Central farm laws. Babli had entered into a public spat with the protesting farmers when he came to Tohana to inaugurate a COVID facility recently. The issue flared up when the JJP MLA openly abused farmers.
Enraged over his comments, the farmers demanded a public apology from Babli and sought registration of a criminal case against him. As the agitation at the Tohana police station started gathering steam, the judge concerned opened his court on Sunday and granted bail to the two leaders, leading to their midnight release.
However, the administration and farmers remained at loggerheads until it was clear that the administration would be releasing the third arrested person, Makhkhan Singh, and would be withdrawing the criminal cases registered against them.
The morcha had given a call to gherao all police stations across the state but withdrew it after the release of the farmer leaders on Monday morning. Later, protesters from four districts of Hisar Commissionerate (Hisar, Jind, Sirsa and Fatehabad) reached Tohana and continued their agitation.
The bringing of livestock (cow) in the protest by a farmer in the absence of caretakers at home, along with pitching of a tent and setting up a stage along with langar (community kitchen) facilities that provided hospitality to police personnel, too, marked this particular battle in the ongoing farmers' movement.
Sumit Dalal, state secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), told NewsClick that although the struggle consumed required a lot of patience, farmers are re-energised and are confident that they can fight the government and defeat it, too.
“I think we should draw two lessons from this three-day-long struggle. The government wanted to divert our attention from the main struggle at the borders of the national capital and entangle us in local matters. However, the farmers remained focused on the main struggle. These small but significant victories also boost the morale of farmers that through a sustained fight, a mighty government can be defeated. We are now going back to Delhi’s borders in thousands to strengthen the front,” said Krishna Prasad, finance secretary, AIKS, adding that “an elephant does not know its power until it is enraged. It’s the same moment for farmers, as we have realised that any government can budge if we remain united.”
In a press statement, SKM said the current agitation in Tohana successfully culminated with administration agreeing to all demands, including a public apology from the MLA concerned, release of protesters and withdrawal of criminal cases against them.
“Our demand has been met after we had long negotiations with administration. The officials told the delegation that they will withdraw the cases as the MLA and his associates filed their respective affidavits that they have no objection to withdrawing the cases. After the meeting, it is also clarified that the farmers will continue to protest peacefully if the MLAs are participating in an official or political programme. No private ceremonies will be disturbed,” the release read.
More farmers join agitation at borders Meanwhile, thousands of vehicles carrying protestors reached the Singhu Border on Sundayy, mainly from Ambala/Shambhu border led by Gurnam Singh Chadhuni. Protestors are also reaching other sites. The numbers increased in Ghazipur border and Shahjahanpur on Monday with farmers from Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan joining in.