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Farmers In Haryana Lathi-Charged; Will It Adversely Affect BJP-JJP Government?

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By Jag Mohan Thaken

Farmers from the different parts of Haryana, who gathered at Kurukshetra on September 10, 2020, to protest against the three anti-farmer central ordinances on the call of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU),  were lathicharged by the Haryana Police.

Since long, the Farmers’ Unions of the state have been demanding the withdrawal of these three ordinances namely  Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020  and  The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020  an amendment in the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

Amid an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, the state government had asked the Kisan Unions not to organize the farmer’s rally, but despite government’s appeal, the farmers gathered to attend the rally.

Lathicharge/ Photo: @@CaptAjayYadav/Twitter

While making an appeal, on September 9, to the farmers to postpone the rally  in the time of this COVID-19 crisis, Haryana Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister, Mr J.P Dalal had said, “Haryana government is a farmer-friendly Government as it has consistently taken farmer-friendly decisions, whether it is about giving compensation, or developing new Mandis.”

As the farmers’ bodies fear that farmers may not get a minimum support price (MSP) for crops after the introduction of new rules, commenting over this, Mr J.P Dalal had clarified that the State Government was committed to providing Minimum Support Price for all the crops of the farmers of the State. Besides this, the government is also dedicated to further expanding the government Mandis in the State.

He divulged that in the meeting held late last evening between Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader, Mr Gurnam Chaduni and senior officers it was clarified that the State Government is also ready to strengthen the statutory arrangements in this regard. Therefore, he expects that the proposed Kisan Rally scheduled to be held on September 10, 2020, will be withdrawn.

However the farmers’ leaders were adamant to hold the rally, but they appealed to the farmers to attend the rally adhering to the Covid distancing norms to neutralize the plea of the state government to cancel the rally on the pretext of  COVID-19 crisis.

Expressing the urgency and unavoidability of the rally, Bhartiya Kisan Union  Haryana  unit president  Gurnam Singh  Chaduni had stated on Wednesday, “We want the withdrawal of these anti-farmer ordinances, which will destroy the peasants and leave them at the mercy of market forces.”

Paying no heed towards the government appeal,  the  Bhartiya Kisan Union and other supporting farmer bodies ultimately on Thursday blocked the national highway at  Pipli in Kurukshetra  to protest the Centre’s above stated three farm ordinances, which they were claiming “anti-farmers”.  Noticing inconveniencing position to the commuters and causing a traffic jam, the police resorted to a lathi-charge to disperse the congregation and control the situation.

Photo: @CaptAjayYadav/Twitter

After a chaos for over two hours, the district administration relented and had to allow the farmers to head to the rallying place much to the relief of the commuters stranded on the highway.

Alleging the government for suppressing the voice of farmers, the angered BKU leader Mr Gurnam Singh Chaduni said,  “The administration is responsible for this situation. We have a right to protest peacefully but they want to suppress our voice. We will continue our fight and force the Centre to withdraw its anti-farmer and anti-arhtiya (commission agent) ordinances. They are using coronavirus as an excuse to suppress our voice.” 

All India Kisan Sabha has also strongly condemned the use of police force against the Kisan rally called by BKU at Pipli in Kurukshetra. Briefing the media, the state acting general secretary Sumit said that imposing of prohibitory orders under the pretext of Corona is directed at suppressing the voice of farmers and other sections against the three ordinances which will have far-reaching consequences for agriculture of our country.

State President of  Haryana Congress, Kumari Selja has also castigated the lathi-charge and asserted that the Congress is with the farmers and declared that party will organize protest march at district level on September 21 throughout Haryana against the anti-farmer ordinances.

The whips of lathi charge have been condemned across the state. Om Prakash Barwa, an  INLD  leader and a former MLA from  Loharu Constituency, nearly 225 kilometres away from the incident place, condemning the lathi charge used the gist of  Lala  Lajpat  Rai’s famous statement and said, “ The lathi-charge on the farmers by BJP-JJP government at Pipli (Kurukshetra ) will prove to be the nails in the coffin of the coalition government. In a democracy, everyone has a right to speak, write and organise a  public meeting in a peaceful manner. The farmers are agitating peacefully for their genuine demands, so the government will have to bow .” He further added that on behalf of the INLD party, he condemns the incident and supports the farmers’ demands.

It is pertinent to mention here what the freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai said, “The government which attacks its own innocent subjects has no claim to be called a civilized government. Bear in mind, such a government does not survive long. I declare that the blows struck at me will be the last nails in the coffin of the British rule in India.”

Certainly, today’s lathi charge on farmers has waved negative vibes in the public and will go in disfavour of the government not only in just coming Baroda Assembly election, but also mar the future of BJP-JJP alliance, as the base vote bank of JJP is the farmer community. The reaction of JJP leader Digvijay Singh, younger brother of Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, is also alarming to the alliance.

Criticizing the happening and demanding an enquiry into the whole episode, he said, “Today’s Lathi Charge incident on farmers is very much condemnable. The pain to farmers is the pain to us. It is a painful happening and it should have been avoided. An investigation should be held into the entire incident.”    

BJP’s own Member of Parliament from Bhiwani- Mohindergarh Lok Sabha constituency, Dharam Bir Singh has also condemned the lathi charge on farmers and urged the government to solve the farmers’ issues amicably. In a tweet on September 11, he states, “On one hand, nature has completely destroyed the cotton and mungbean crops and on the other hand, Covid-19 has pushed the country and the world towards the edge of ruination. In such a situation, in a democratic country, instead of listening to the voice of aggrieved farmers, restoring to a lathi charge on them is highly condemnable. It becomes the duty of the government to have a dialogue with the farmer leaders and resolve the issues so that no new problem arises.” 

Either the BJP has not smelt the severity of the ground reality or thought of some another way to tackle the farmers’ issues, that is why BJP’s Haryana unit does not seem to soften the step and still showing the thorny horns by politicizing the issue.

A tweet on Haryana BJP @BJP4Haryana on September 10 shows the intention of the party, “Today’s protest was fully sponsored by the Congress party. All three ordinances are the beginning of economic freedom for the farmers… There will be the purchase of farmers’ produce as before just after the crop is   harvested and then the real face of the people who are enticing the farmers will be unmasked.”

Amid the exchange of hitting allegations on each other, whatever the consequences may be in future, but presently to redress the grievances of the farmers, the state government must have a dialogue with the dreaded peasants and find an amicable solution instead of repressing them brutally.

Jag Mohan Thaken is the Editor-in-Chief of India News Front
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