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Arrest of Farm Leaders Spark Face-Off with Haryana Govt

The arrests followed the farmers’ protest in Shahabad demanding the procurement of sunflowers at MSP and blocking NH-44 in Kurukshetra.
Haryana farmers protest

Image courtesy: @RakeshTikaitBKU (Twitter)

New Delhi: Once again, a clash between farmers and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana has escalated tensions. Gurnam Singh Charuni, the chief of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Charuni), along with eight union leaders and activists, found themselves under arrest on Tuesday evening. 

The charges against the farm leaders reportedly include attempt to murder, rioting, unlawful assembly, and blocking the national highway in Haryana. Subsequently, they were sent to 14-day judicial custody. 

The arrests followed the farmers’ protest in Shahabad, where they demanded that the government procure the sunflower crop at the minimum support price (MSP). The protesters also blocked the NH-44 in Kurukshetra.

The court ordered Gurnam Singh Charuni, Rakesh Bains, Jasbir Singh, Jai Ram, Prince, Surjeet, Jarnail Singh, Gulab Singh, and Pankaj Habana to be sent to judicial custody. A case was registered against them under several sections, including 8B of the National Highway Act, 120B, 147, 149, 186, 188, 283, 307, 332, and 353 of the IPC, as well as Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, the Tribune reported. The case involved 23 identified individuals and approximately 700 unknown farmers.

Charuni, the BKU leader, vehemently denounced the charges as false, claiming the government framed them. He disputed the inclusion of the attempt to murder charges in the FIR. Charuni expressed determination, stating that the farmers would persist in their protests until their demands were met. He also urged farmers across the country to intensify their demonstrations in support of the MSP. 

After the farm leaders’ custodial sentence, representatives from various unions held a meeting and decided to hold a rally at the Pipli grain market on June 12.

Arshpal Singh, Gurnam’s son, emphasised the urgency for the government to release their leaders and initiate MSP procurement by June 12. He warned that if these conditions were not met, the protests would escalate, The Tribune report said.

Farmer unions from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab planned to gather at the Pipli grain market for the “MSP Dilao, Kisan Bachao” rally, during which they would devise a strategy and make significant decisions. Singh also disclosed that all minor protests held at various locations would be lifted, with only a symbolic protest continuing in Shahabad.

Kurukshetra SP Surinder Singh Bhoria told The Tribune, “A case was registered under relevant Sections. The farmers tried to run over on-duty policemen with a tractor, due to which the charge of attempt to murder was added. Ample security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order.”

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait arrived in Shahabad and condemned the use of force by the state government against farmers in Kurukshetra. Referring to the nature of the protest as peaceful, Tikait expressed outrage at the police crackdown resulting in injuries to numerous farmers. He claimed the government disregarded their justified demands and resorted to harassment and violence. Tikait also vowed to continue the agitation until the government agreed to their demands.

Members of the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha, led by district president Preet Singh, staged a protest outside the Rohtak DC office in response to the police lathi-charge against the farmers. They submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar demanding immediate sunflower procurement at the MSP and the release of the arrested farmers.

The All-India Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sangathan echoed the calls for the release of farm leaders. They further urged the government to provide free medical assistance to injured farmers, compensate the families of a deceased protester, and withdraw all cases registered against the protesting farmers. Anup Singh Matanhel, the state president of the Sangathan, made these demands known, The Tribune reported.

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