New Delhi/ Karnal, August 28 (UNI): A lathi charge was carried out on farmers at the Gharaunda toll plaza in Karnal, prompting farmers to call for a road block in the state, and drawing sharp criticism from Opposition.
According to Samyukt Kisan Morcha, farmers were gathering to protest against the visit of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and other BJP leaders who were visiting Karnal. Jai Kisan Andolan Chief Yogendra Yadav said farmers wanted to show black flags to the leaders, but they were not allowed and force was used against them.
Several highways in Haryana were blocked by farmers in protest against the action, after a call was given by Darshan Pal from Samyukt Kisan Morcha, Gurnam Singh Charuni of Bharatiya Kisan Union, and other farmer leaders called for it.
As photographs and videos of farmers injured in the lathi charge flooded social media, it drew strong criticism from the Opposition.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi shared a photo of a bleeding farmer and said, “Once again farmers are bleeding, India’s head hangs in shame.”
It was also condemned by party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and party leader RS Surjewala.
Surjewala issued a statement comparing the incident to the action by Brig Gen Dyer who was responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
“The way farmers were beaten up while they were carrying out peaceful protests reminds of General Dyer,” he said.
The comment comes on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the renovated Jallianwala Bagh Smarak.
Dr Darshan Pal from the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, in a video message on his Facebook page, said many farmers were injured.
“Haryana Police has done a brutal lathi charge, many farmers are injured, they have suffered fractures, many have been hit on the head…” he said.
Samyukt Kisan Morcha called for blocking roads till 5 pm in protest. “Gather wherever you can, at toll plazas or other points, and block the roads till 5 pm today,” Pal said.
He said instructions for the next action will be given later.
Pal also said that many farmers were detained, and demanded their release. He added that if anything happens to any farmers, the agitation will be intensified.
“Farmers were gathering at Gharaunda toll plaza for a peaceful protest against chief minister’s Karnal visit. Police carried out a brutal lathi charge. We condemn it,” he said.
Farmers have been protesting against the new farm laws for over nine months now, with protest sites springing up on Delhi borders and other places, especially in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. In Haryana, several protests have been held against BJP leaders, and they have been not allowed to hold public meetings on several occasions.
The last visit of Chief Minister Khattar to Karnal was in June, when he came an hour and half earlier than scheduled for a tree plantation program to avoid protesters, according to reports.