Road blockade across Haryana; internet shutdown extended : Farmers Protest

Road blockade across Haryana; internet shutdown extended : Farmers Protest

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Road blockade across Haryana; internet shutdown extended : Farmers Protest

Farmer leaders put on hold the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march for two days after a 21-year-old protester was killed and 12 police personnel were injured in clashes at Khanauri, one of the two Punjab-Haryana interstate border points which have become protest sites for the farmers attempting to reach New Delhi.

The deceased protester has been identified as Subhkaran Singh, who succumbed to a head injury, medical superintendent H S Rekhi at Rajindra Hospital said. The death of the protesting farmers has exacerbated the already tense situation and opposition leaders have hit out at the BJP-led central government over alleged mishandling of the protest.

Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann asserted that stringent action would be taken against those responsible for it, while Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked whether it was for this day that we fought for independence. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrogance has again become the enemy of farmers’ lives.

Here are the top developments from the farmers’ protest:

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha condoled the death of Singh and alleged the government was “solely responsible for the present crisis and casualty”. The farmers’ body has called a meeting of its National Coordination Committee and the General Body on February 22 to discuss the situation and take “decisive action to advance the struggle”.

Haryana Police said the protesting farmers at Khanauri set on fire chaff mixed with chilli powder and attacked the security forces with stones and sharp weapons. AIG (Administration) Manisha Chaudhary in a statement said that 12 cops were seriously injured in the attack and the toxic smoke from chilli pepper-laced straw led to breathing problems and poor visibility for the cops.

Subhkaran Singh became the first farmer to die in the clashes during ongoing farmer agitation. He died of injuries from what officials described as a “bullet”, without clarifying if it was a rubber bullet or a normal bullet. Singh’s family and farmer groups alleged he was shot, refusing to collect his body until government action is taken. Singh, a small landowner, supported his family, including his mentally ill father.

Chaudhary appealed to protesters to not resort to such activities since the poisonous smoke not only reduces visibility in the area but also hampers the efforts of the police personnel to maintain law and order. She stressed that toxic smoke poses a risk to both parties and also increases the chances of unfortunate accidents.

As the situation escalated at Khanauri and Shambhu border points, police resorted to firing tear gas shells to disperse protesters, who had started inching towards the multiple concrete barriers erected to stop their advance.

Earlier in the day, a sub-inspector of Haryana Police posted at the Tohana border passed away after his health deteriorated. The director general of police expressed grief over SI Vijay Kumar’s demise. Haryana police informed that as many as three police officers have lost their lives on duty in the ongoing agitation.

The Haryana government has extended the ban on mobile internet and bulk SMS services in seven districts until February 23 due to the standoff with farmers. The ban aims to prevent the spread of misinformation and rumours on social media platforms, according to the administration, which could incite violence during protests. The services will remain suspended in the jurisdiction of districts Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa.

The ongoing farmers’ protest has severely disrupted road connectivity between Chandigarh and Delhi, leading to significant transportation challenges. Road blockages since February 13 have resulted in fully booked trains until February 25, forcing commuters to consider costly alternatives like flights, with fares soaring four times higher than usual.

To protest the death of a farmer at the Datta Singhwala-Khanauri border, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Charuni) members plan to block major roads across Haryana for two hours on Thursday. Union head Gurnam Singh Charuni urged protesters to avoid clashes with authorities. Effigy-burning plans were scrapped due to heightened tensions.

Union agriculture minister Arjun Munda said the interest of farmers across the country should be taken into account while dealing with demands raised by the protesting farmers and appealed to them to come for another round of discussions. Munda also exuded confidence that a solution to the demands of the farmers can be found through negotiations.

By HT