Haryana: Farmers block national highway at Pipli, hold rally against Centre’s farm ordinances

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |

Updated: September 10, 2020 10:20:10 pm

The agitating farmers also blocked traffic on the national highway for over four hours, causing hardship to thousands of commuters who used village link roads to bypass Pipli. (Twiiter/CaptAjayYadav)

Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and other farmer organisations on Thursday blocked the national highway at Pipli in Haryana’s Kurukshetra district for almost two hours after police did not allow them move to their rally venue to protest against the Centre’s three agri ordinances, which they claim are “anti-farmer”.

Police resorted to force on the agitating farmers when they forcibly tried to move to the rally venue by breaking a barricade. The farmers then blocked the national highway that connects Delhi to Ambala near Kurukshetra. The confrontation between police and farmers went on from 11 am to 2 pm before the latter were finally allowed to hold the rally at Pipli.

Now, the protesting farmers have announced that they will block all roads of the state on September 20 if their demands are not met by then.

The farmer organisations are demanding a legislation to ensure Minimum Support Price (MSP) in the wake of three ordinances introduced by the central government — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and an amendment in the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. The ruling BJP has launched a campaign in support of the ordinances, calling them “reforms” in the agriculture sector.

The administration had asked farmers not to hold the rally while citing increasing cases of Covid-19, while farm bodies stood their ground saying political parties were also being allowed to hold functions. To prevent the movement of farmers to Pipli, police had installed nakas across the state. Farmer leaders say the agitators were detained at several places in the state. Independent MLA from Meham, Balraj Kundu, and his supporters were detained in Rohtak.

Despite that, a large number of farmers managed to reach Pipli. Police say “mild force” was used when the farmers tried to move to the rally venue. However, BKU’s Gurnam Singh Chaduni said, “I don’t know exactly how many farmers were injured in the lathicharge but I myself saw 2-3 farmers with head injuries and others with injuries on their legs.”

Meanwhile, farmers who were stopped almost half a kilometre away from the rally venue gathered on the national highway. “With the presence of a large number of farmers, the highway got blocked,” Chaduni told The Indian Express.

Chaduni, who had gone underground two days ago to prevent his arrest, appeared to address the farmers who were sitting on the national highway. The agitators demanded immediate release of farmers who were detained by police and removal of all nakas. Kurukshetra Deputy Commissioner Sharandeep Kaur Brar and SP Atha Modi reached the spot to persuade the farmers to open the highway.

“The administration agreed to accept both our demands; release of those detained by police and removal of nakas. The administration had sealed Pipli Mandi but later agreed to allow farmers to hold their rally there,” said Chaduni. The agitators have said they will sit on dharnas from September 15 for five days if the government neither invites them for dialogue nor accepts their demands by September 14.

Kurukshetra SP Astha Modi told The Indian Express no arrests have been made as of now, but FIRs will be registered wherever provisions of the law were broken. Asked about the farmers’ claim of lathicharge, she said, “It was not a lathicharge. They tried to break barricades at Pipli chowk which were installed to prevent their movement to mandi. Three-four tractor-trolleys arrived and tried to damage the barricades. They sort of tried to hit the policemen and then hit the barricades to cross the police naka. The agitators were stopped there and were pushed back. They pelted stones at us.” She further claimed that the agitators tried to run over policemen and sub-divisional magistrate with a tractor in Shahabad.

Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja, senior party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, INLD leader Abhay Chautala and Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav criticised the government over use of force on the agitating farmers.

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