Ahead of ‘Delhi chalo’ drive, cops pick up farmer leaders in midnight raids

72 activists have been detained so far, police say

Sunit Dhawan
Tribune News Service
Rohtak, November 24

Two days ahead of the ‘Delhi chalo’ demonstration planned by farmers’ orgainsations in protest against the three agriculture laws enacted recently, Haryana police personnel swooped down on the homes of dozens of farmers’ leaders and activists in different parts of the state in the wee hours on Wednesday and whisked them away.

Midnight raids and arrests were reported from Sirsa, Fatehabad, Bhiwani, Rohtak, Jhajjar, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar and Ambala districts. Later in the day, Khattar said that the government does not approve of the farmers’ protest and plans are afoot to ensure law and order is not compromised. 

Appealing to the farmers’ organisations to desist from holding protests and urging the public from keep away from the GT roads leading to and from Delhi and Punjab, Khattar said, “The public should avoid the Punjab-Haryana borders on November 25 and 26 and from the Delhi-Haryana border on November 26 and 27. Stern action has been planned to avert any law and order situation.”     

“As many as 72 activists have been detained so far and more such preventive arrests are likely,” Haryana DGP Manoj Yadava said.  

The All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Khet Mazdoor Union and several other associations of farmers and farm-labourers decried the midnight raids conducted at the behest of the BJP-JJP government in Haryana and staged protest demonstrations against the move across the state. 

“We condemn the ruthless manner in which the state government acted to sabotage the peaceful protest planned by the farmers’ organisations. Houses of farmers’ leaders were raided at unearthly hours between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. as if they are wanted criminals,” said Comrade Inderjit Singh, a vice-president of the Haryana chapter of All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), who led the protest demonstration at Rohtak. 

BKU (Charuni) spokesman Rakesh Bains also criticised the state government for picking up farmers’ leaders from their homes in the middle of night.  

“The government is treating the farmers like terrorists. The government is adopting repressive tactics to weaken the ‘Delhi march’ movement,” he maintained.  

Last evening, BKU chief Gurnam Singh Charuni had expressed apprehension that the police might arrest the farmers’ leaders, following which many veteran farmers’ leaders went underground to avoid arrests. 

The farmers’ organisations and the main opposition party, the Congress, have sought immediate release of the detainees. 

Addressing reporters after a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party in Chandigarh, Hooda said the treatment meted out to farmers was wrong as every citizen of the country has the right to raise their demand in a peaceful manner and agitate against policies that would harm them. “The legitimate demands of the farmers cannot be suppressed. Arresting leaders from their homes at night cannot be justified and the government should release the arrested leaders at the earliest,” he said.

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