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Farmer killed, 12 cops hurt as stir turns violent; Delhi march put on hold

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: February 21, 2024 22:26 IST
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Farmers leaders on Wednesday put the 'Delhi Chalo' march on hold for two days after a protester was killed and about 12 police personnel injured in clashes at Khanauri, one of the two protest sites on the Punjab-Haryana border.

IMAGE: Security personnel stand guard at the Khanauri Border in Sangrur district on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, during the farmers 'Delhi Chalo' march. Photograph: ANI Photo

Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said that they will decide the next course of action on Friday evening.

Punjab farmers at Khanauri and Shambhu had resumed their agitation early in the morning after a two-day lull following the fourth round of talks on Sunday night with a panel of three Union ministers in an attempt to break the deadlock.


Police fired tear gas shells at the two border points multiple times to disperse groups of protesters when they attempted to move towards the layers of barricades stalling their march to the national capital.

Earlier in the day, Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, who is among the Union ministers engaging with the farmer leaders, called for further talks and appealed to the protesters to maintain peace.

Thousands of farmers remain camped at Khanauri and Shambhu with their tractor-trolleys and trucks agitating for their demands, including a legal guarantee for minimum support price for crops and farm debt waiver.

Farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa identified the dead farmer as Subhkaran Singh (21), a resident of Baloke village in Punjab's Bathinda district.

Patiala-based Rajindra Hospital's medical superintendent H S Rekhi told reporters that three people, one of them dead, were brought to the hospital from Khanauri.

The deceased had an injury to his head and the other two are stable, Rekhi said.

A Haryana police officer said around 12 police personnel were injured when they were attacked with lathis and stones thrown at them in Khanauri, located in Punjab's Sangrur district, close to the border with Haryana's Jind.

Talking to reporters at Shambhu, Pandher said farmers will review the situation that developed at Khanauri. "We will discuss the whole issue and the next decision will be announced on Friday evening," he said.

The farmers claimed that Haryana Police personnel fired rubber bullets, besides tear gas shells.

Heavy earthmoving equipment, including excavators, and modified tractors were seen at the protest sites, and police had cautioned that these might be used to break barricades and cause harm to security personnel.

Many protesting farmers were seen wearing masks and glasses to protect themselves from tear gas. Drones were used by police to keep an eye on the activities of the farmers on the other side of the barricades and drop tear gas shells.

During the last round of talks, which ended past midnight Sunday, the panel of three Union ministers -- Munda, Piyush Goyal and Nityananad Rai -- had proposed buying five crops -- moong dal, urad dal, tur dal, maize and cotton -- from farmers at MSP for five years through central agencies.

Speaking to PTI later, Munda exuded confidence that a solution to the demands of the farmers can be found through negotiations.

"Farmers are across the country. While making a policy, it is important to keep in mind the interest of the farmers of the entire country. Keeping this in mind, we will work towards resolving their concerns in the coming days," he said.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha are spearheading the protest.

Several farmer organisations condoled the death of the farmer.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha has held the government responsible for the situation and called a meeting on Thursday.

"The SKM strongly protests the brutal police repression and murder of farmer Subhkaran Singh of Baloke village, Bhatinda district, in police firing in the Haryana-Punjab border," it said in a statement.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said history will certainly demand an account of farmers' killings from the BJP -- which is in power at the Centre.

Addressing protesters at Shambhu in the morning, farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal asked farmers to maintain peace and calm if they wanted to win. "Do you want to win or not?" he asked.

He also mentioned the "victory" of farmers during the 2020-21 agitation against the now-repealed farm laws.

Dallewal cautioned the farmers to be wary of elements who could damage the agitation.

In a post on X earlier, the Haryana Police asked owners of excavators to withdraw their machines from the protest sites. If they do not do so, action will be taken, it said.

"For owners and operators of poclains, JCBs: Please do not provide your equipment to the protestors and withdraw them from the protest site if already done, as they may be used to cause harm to security forces. It is a non-bailable offence and you may be held criminally liable," police said in a post on X.

The Haryana Police on Tuesday had urged its Punjab counterpart to seize bulldozers and other earthmoving equipment from the inter-state border points, saying protesters might use these to break barricades.

These could pose a threat to security forces, Haryana Director General of Police Shatrujeet Kapoor had said in an urgent communication to his Punjab counterpart Gaurav Yadav.

The farmers are also demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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