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Rediff.com  » News » Farmers tear-gassed even as govt calls for fresh talks

Farmers tear-gassed even as govt calls for fresh talks

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Hemant Waje
Last updated on: February 21, 2024 17:04 IST
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The Haryana Police on Wednesday fired tear gas shells to disperse farmers from Punjab at Shambhu and Khanauri border points as they tried to move towards barricades stalling their protest march to Delhi.

IMAGE: Farmers, marching towards New Delhi to press for better crop prices promised to them in 2021, throw tear gas back towards police, at Shambhu, a border crossing between Punjab and Haryana states on February 14, 2024. Photograph: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

Thousands farmers resumed their agitation two days after the fourth round of talks with the government over their demands, including a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) for crops and farm debt waiver, failed.

Their 'Delhi Chalo' march began on February 13 and since then, farmers are gathered at the border points along with their tractor-trolleys, mini-vans and pickup trucks.

 

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

Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, who is among the three Union ministers engaging with the farmers' leaders, has appealed to the protesters to maintain peace and resolve issues through discussions.

He has invited the leaders for a fifth round of talks on all issues, including that related to MSP.

Police fired tear gas shells to disperse some farmers who started moving towards the multiple layers of barricades at the Shambhu border point near Ambala in Haryana. By mid-afternoon, there had been at least three rounds of tear gas shelling.

A drone was also deployed by security personnel at Shambhu to drop tear gas shells.

In Khanauri too, police fired tear gas shells to disperse farmers as they moved towards the barricades.

Following the tear gas shelling, a chaotic situation was witnessed at the protest sites with the farmers running for cover as the smoke enveloped the area.

Many protesting farmers were seen wearing masks and glasses to protect themselves from the gas.

Drones are also being used by police to keep an eye on the activities of the farmers on the other side of the barricades.

The farmer leaders have asked the protesters to maintain calm and peace.

Volunteers deputed by the farmer leaders at the protest sites have been asking young farmers not to move ahead.

Addressing protesters at Shambhu, farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal asked them to maintain peace and calm if they wanted to win.

"Do you want to win or not?" he asked the farmers.

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.

Earlier in the day, while speaking to reporters, he said farmers will march towards Delhi in a peaceful manner.

"Our intention is not to disturb peace," Dallewal asserted.

While accusing the Centre of indulging in 'delaying tactics' over the farmers' demands, Dallewal said it should take a decision in their favour.

He also condemned the government for installing multiple layers of barricades at the Punjab-Haryana border points to prevent the farmers from heading towards Delhi.

In a post on X, 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 Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha are spearheading the 'Delhi Chalo' march to press the government to accept the farmers' demands.

The protesting farmers have rejected the BJP-led Centre's proposal for procuring pulses, maize and cotton at MSP by government agencies for five years.

This was proposed in the fourth round of talks.

Talks between the farmer leaders and three Union ministers -- Piyush Goyal, Munda and Nityananad Rai -- have been held on February 8, 12, 15 and 18.

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: Hemant Waje© 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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