Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was in the town to inaugurate a Covid-19 dedicated hospital.
Several farmers and the police clashed on Sunday in Haryana’s Hisar town where Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar inaugurated a new Covid-19 dedicated hospital, reported The Tribune. Around 50 farmers and 20 police officers were injured in the two-hour-long clash.
The protestors were moving towards Hisar town from Ramayan toll plaza to stage a protest against Khattar. They had given a call for the protest earlier and were planning to show black flags at the chief minister.
The police had stopped the protestors at the outskirts of the town. However, they broke through the barriers and proceeded towards the Industrial area, where the newly-inaugurated hospital is located. The protestors missed Khattar, who had already left the venue.
As they reached the industrial area, the police fired teargas shells and used batons to disperse the protestors. In retaliation, farmers also pelted stones at the police. The police detained around 85 farmers, reported The Indian Express.
“In the clashes, 20 personnel including five policewomen and a DSP [deputy superintendent of police] were injured,” said a Hisar police spokesperson. Farmer leader Vikas Sisar said over 70 farmers sustained injuries.
After the incident, the farmers held a meeting at the Ramayan toll plaza. They decided to block all the highways in Haryana from 5 pm to 7 pm on Sunday and protest at the office of Hisar’s inspector general of police. They also planned to agitate at all the police stations in Haryana on Monday.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Gurnam Singh Charuni, who was present at the meeting, said that ambulances, doctors, oxygen transports, fire brigade and Army vehicles will not be stopped during the blockade.
“When Covid regulations are imposed, how can a huge crowd be allowed to assemble at the venue today,” Charuni said. “Videos on social media show a crowd of over 500 persons. Why couldn’t the inauguration be done online?”
He said that the chief minister and some of his ministers were blaming the farmers for spreading the coronavirus infection in villages. “We knew they would tarnish our image the way they did with the Tablighis,” the farmers’ leader said. “But the virus is spreading due to people working in Delhi, Gurgaon and Faridabad. When they come back to villages, then it spreads.”
However, Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Soni said on Sunday evening that the standoff between the police and farmers was resolved after a joint meeting. Detained farmers were released later.
“They [the police] have agreed not to press any charges on protesters who were held and agreed to release them,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait. “Farmer unions have said they will repair the police vehicles damaged during the clash.”
In a similar event on January 10, a group of farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws had ransacked the venue in Karnal district where Khattar was scheduled to arrive. The event was cancelled later.
The police had used water cannons and tear gas and resorted to baton charge to stop protestors from reaching a helipad in Kaimla village, where Khattar was scheduled to land to address the farmers in a “kisan mahapanchayat” event.
Thousands of farmers have camped on the outskirts of Delhi since November, demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. Farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime.