13 injured as farmers, police clash in Jind
Jind, February 22
Hundreds of farmers have been blocking the nation highway for the past three days in spite of several rounds of meetings with the administration. The farmers have intensified their agitation, blocking three more roads.
The farmers are demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan report, but the administration says they cannot implement it since it is a central subject.
“The police cane-charged agitating farmers, injuring 10 of them, around 6 am,” said Vikas Davas, national spokesperson for the Bharti Kisan Brigade (BKB). Two policemen who were admitted to the Jind Civil Hospital claimed they were attacked with stones and sharp weapons when they tried to lift the blockade in the morning.
The police have arrested 25 farmers and registered three FIRs for axing trees, blocking the national highway and inciting violence. They have also recovered weapons and some literature from the scene. “They attacked us as we waited for the farmer leaders to start their meeting,” said Assistant Sub-Inspector Suresh, who suffered injuries in the clash. “We had gone to the protest scene to hold a meeting with them this morning. But thousands of farmers attacked around 250 policemen,” said Additional Deputy Commissioner Jaiveer Singh Arya.
Amritsar standoff ends after key demands met
Amritsar, February 22
The Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC) had made fresh demands and refused to accept the farmer’s body after the postmortem earlier in the day. The administration agreed to pay Rs 5 lakh in compensation to the next of kin of the victim, Rs 25,000 to the seriously injured and free treatment to the injured.
Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagat said they had also decided to release 30 out of 43 arrested farmers. A decision on the remaining farmers would be taken aftera meeting with Police Commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh on Monday. KSC general secretary Sawinder Singh said they would end the dharna and cremate the farmer’s body at his native village tomorrow.
They would meet Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and demand a government job for a family member of the deceased.
The protesters had demanded a government job and Rs 10 lakh in compensation for the next of kin, besides unconditional release of arrested farmers.
The farmers were holding the protest demanding a cut in power rates to Re 1 per unit; dropping of power theft cases against farmers; free connections to those with less than 5 acre landholding; halt to installation of power meter outside residence without consumers’ consent; and dissolution of the two power corporations.
The Amritsar police justified the lathi charge and blamed the protesters for the clash. Police Commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh at a press conference claimed the death was caused by lathi charge since the victim’s body did not bear injury marks.
The farmers trashed the police theory and refused to accept the body. They sought unconditional release of their 43 colleagues arrested last night. Thirteen protesters were booked for attempted murder.
They further demanded Rs 2 lakh for severely injured farmers and Rs 1 lakh for those with minor injuries. They also sought waiver of debt.
Angrej Singh, son of the deceased, said a villager who had accompanied Bahadur Singh to the agitation informed them about his death this morning.
“I went to the hospital, where the postmortem was to be conducted, around 9 am but the police prevented us from entering the premises. I identified my father from his picture shown by the police,” he said.
Chutala said over 40 farmers sustained injuries in the lathi charge and were admitted to various hospitals. Bahadur Singh died after he was thrashed by the police, he claimed.
The farmers were prevented from seeing the body even after the postmortem since the authorities wanted to “manipulate” the autopsy report, Chutala alleged.
The Police Commissioner said they had constituted a medical board to conduct the postmortem. He produced a PSPCL official who was allegedly held hostage by farmers on Friday evening. He claimed the police used force in self-defence after they came under attack.
He said the police held negotiations for over four hours to secure the release of the PSPCL staff, including women. He said around 15 police officials, including three ADCP-rank officers, sustained injuries in the attack.