Protests led by farmers’ outfits continue unabated across the country over the controversial agriculture reforms that are feared to tilt the playing field in favour of private corporates. On Tuesday, October 6, in Haryana, the site of action was the residence of its Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and his uncle Ranjit Chautala, who also holds the charge of power and prisons ministry, in Sirsa – as part of the intensified struggle.
Farmers in thousands had gathered at the Dussehra Ground – situated nearby the ministers’ residence – and staged a dharna as the two Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leaders maintain their support for the three farm legislations.
The call to lay siege at their residence was given by almost 17 farmers’ bodies in the state, which was supported by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), the national umbrella body of 250 farmers’ organisations.
At around 3 PM, the farmers’ rally to the ministers’ residence was stopped by the security forces – some 200 m away from the house. Baton charge and water canon along with tear gas were allegedly used against the protesting farmers.
A farmer leader with Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) – Haryana told NewsClick over phone that “if not allowed to reach Chautala’s house, the farmers will sit there only (where they have been barricaded) and will continue to do so in larger numbers in the days to come.”
Later in the day, Chautala took to Twitter confirming the medical reports that show him being infected with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, amid the demonstration, the slogan – “Ya kursi chun lo ya kisan (choose the seat or farmers), reverberated which captured the major demand of the farmers’ bodies who want both the ministers to resign from the Manohar Lal Khattar – led government in the state.
Their party, JJP, has been enjoying the backing by farmers for years, mostly from the Jat community in Haryana. In 2019, in a post-poll scenario, it had allied with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a coalition state government.
The total strength of the farmers who had turned up from across the state had touched the 10,000-mark, Ashutosh, media head of AIKSCC told NewsClick over phone from Sirsa. “This was despite,” he added, “that many of them were stopped at the borders and were not able to reach the protest site.”
Also read: Haryana: Lathis, FIRs Fail to Deter Farmers’ Agitation
Swaraj India national president Yogendra Yadav, who is also the national working group member of AIKSCC, while addressing the protesting farmers in Sirsa urged them to socially boycott all the political leaders who support the “anti-farmer” bills.
Farmers on their way to gherao the residence of Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leader and Haryana's Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala. Courtesy - Facebook
Pressure has mounted over Chautala, who had earlier described the farm laws as “progressive”, to break his party’s alliance with BJP, even more so after the farmers had achieved in the neighbouring state Punjab in the case of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Following a gherao – which lasted for about a week – of the residence of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and his wife and Union Cabinet Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the later resigned from her position at the Centre. The duo were earlier accused of “fooling” farmers in Punjab and not protecting their interests. Subsequently, Akali Dal, one of the oldest BJP ally, also parted ways with the later-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Harpal Singh, state secretary, Bharatiya Kisan Union – Haryana, said that if the Akali Dal can snap its ties with BJP, then why not JJP. “Chautala ji will have to decide between his position in the state government and farmers. If he is serious about protecting our interests, then he must submit his resignation,” Singh told NewsClick over phone from Sirsa, adding, “if not, then this protest against him can also continue for an indefinite period.”
Chautala, on the other hand, had urged the farmers not to be misled. “Haryana farmers are aware of who is safeguarding their interests. The state and the Centre have taken many historical decisions in the interest of farmers,” Hindustan Times quoted him as saying from his residence at Sirsa on Sunday.
The state has witnessed two state-wide bandhs last month – on September 20 and 25. This was in addition to the earlier rallies in the state, one of which – at Pipli in Kurukshetra – was even met with a brutal police action on farmers.
With Punjab and Haryana at the forefront of the farmers’ stir, protests also mark other states including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and western region of Uttar Pradesh among others.
Building upon these, the AIKSCC has also given a “Delhi Chalo” call for November 26 and 27 in a bid to pressure the Centre to scrap farm bills or enact a separate legislation to make the Minimum Support Price (MSP) a legal right.