Tribune News Service
Karnal, January 10
The police on Sunday fired tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse farmers, who stormed the helipad and vandalised the stage, where Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was to address a ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ to highlight the “benefits” of Centre's three agriculture laws.
Protesting farmers reached the venue in the afternoon and disrupted the programme. They damaged the stage and broke chairs, tables and flower pots at the venue. The programme was later cancelled.
The farmers also took control over a makeshift helipad where Chief Minister's helicopter was to land.
Police have registered a case under various sections of damaging to public property Act and others against 71 persons by name as well as some unidentified people.
Meanwhile, BJP workers, led by local MLA Harvinder Kalyan, also reached the fields near the helipad.
Farmers had, earlier in the day, taken out a march on tractors, SUVs, cars and bikes towards Kaimla village to oppose the Chief Minister’s address.
On their way to the venue, farmers successfully crossed the first barricade installed at Gharaunda on the Kaimla road.
Karnal SP Ganga Ram Punia was seen trying to pacify the farmers but they staged a sit-in near the second barricade as their leaders were busy discussing further strategy.
Police from surrounding districts, led by four SPs and more than 12 DSPs, were deployed at different entry points.
To stall farmers from marching towards Kaimla village, the police had also parked trucks on Kaimla road.
After being stopped by the police, scores of farmers started marching on foot, leaving their vehicles behind, to cross the barricades.
Amidst the chaos, farmer leaders appealed the protestors to maintain discipline.
When the situation got out of hand, the police used tear gas shells to disperse farmers who were marching towards the venue.
Police had made elaborate security arrangements for the Chief Minister's visit to the village where he was to speak to people to highlight the “benefits” of the Centre's three farm laws.
Farmers from across the district were, however, adamant on opposing the event.
Some Kaimla villagers and residents of surrounding areas, including Kutail village of local MLA Harvinder Kalyan, earlier today extended support to the protesting farmers at the Bastara toll plaza and said they would also oppose the Chief Minister’s visit.
Police had made elaborate security arrangements for the chief minister’s visit to the village where he was to speak to people to highlight the “benefits” of the new farm laws.
Director General of Police (Crime) Muhammad Akil was also present at the spot.
“All the farmers are here to whom the CM ‘sahib’ intends to explain the farm laws. We will not allow the government to hold this programme,” a protester said.
The farmers lambasted the Khattar-led dispensation in the state, saying it was holding a programme on the central farm laws at this point of time when farmers across the country have been protesting against the same.
“The government is trying to rub salt into our wounds with this ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ programme,” another protester added.
Reacting to the incident, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the government should avoid confrontation with the protesting farmers.
“Farmers have certain apprehensions over the new farm Acts, the government should rather repeal these Acts as desired by the peasantry and avoid confrontation with them by holding functions like the mahapanchayat,” he said.
The former CM reiterated his demand of convening an emergent session of the state assembly.
“This government has lost the faith of its legislators and people. The Congress wants to bring a no confidence motion against the Khattar government,” he said.
Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja said the mahapanchayat convened by Khattar did not get support from the people.
“The government had lost trust of the people,” she said.
AICC general secretary Randeep singh Surjewala said the proposed mahapanchayat was a “government sponsored” event which has been shown “its true picture” by the protesters.
Meanwhile, a purported video of Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh Charuni making an appeal to end the arrogance of the CM by not allowing him to address the mahapanchayat circulated on social media.
Notably, on January 6, the BKU (Charuni) had threatened that they would oppose the ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ programme.
Besides addressing the programme, the Haryana CM was also supposed to announce development works worth Rs 47 crore for Karnal. With PTI inputs
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