“Action Against Farmers Also If Guilty”: Haryana Minister On Officer Row

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Farmers Protest: The entire Karnal incident will be probed, Anil Vij said Thursday (File)

Chandigarh:

Faced with farmers standing firm in calls for action against those who ordered the August 28 lathi charge, and against IAS officer Ayush Sinha for his “crack their (farmers’) heads” remark, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij today said the state will investigate “the entire Karnal episode”.

Mr Vij also cautioned the farmers, who have launched a sit-in protest outside the mini-secretariat at Karnal, saying that action will be taken against them if the probe finds them Haryana .

“We will probe entire Karnal episode… not just Ayush Sinha. We can’t punish officers without a probe,” he said, adding, “If farmer leaders are found guilty we will also take action against them.”

Mr Vij’s comments come amid a days-long stand-off between the state and farmers protesting last month’s lathi charge, which they claim killed one person – Sushil Kajla – and left at least 10 others injured. The police have disputed the death claims; they have said he died of a cardiac arrest.

The farmers have also demanded strict action against former Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha, who was caught on video telling cops to “crack their (farmers’) heads” during the events of August 28.

Sinha’s comments seemed to have been defended by Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar, who said the official’s words were “not correct” but the situation called for “strictness”.

Incensed, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha has demanded his suspension and the filing of a case against “the murderous official being protected and promoted by Haryana government”. Sinha has since been transferred to another department, but the farmers have said “transferring him is not a punishment”.

Police fired water cannons at protesting farmers to keep them from the Karnal mini-secretariat

On Wednesday protesting farmers said they might have to keep a permanent protest site in Karnal as talks with the state remained inconclusive for a second consecutive day.

“We may have a permanent protest like Singhu and Tikri (on the Delhi) border here,” farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said, adding that protests at those sites – which have been focused on demands to repeal the centre’s farm laws – would not be “disturbed by this one”.

The march to the Karnal secretariat started this week after the first round of talks fell through.

Police tried to stop the farmers with water cannons but they would not be deterred; visuals from the spot showed flag-waving and slogan-shouting as farmers jumped barricades.

“The gherao, or surrounding, of the mini-secretariat at Karnal has just started. It will be peaceful,” Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav told reporters then.

“We are not going anywhere until our demands are met,” Gurnam Singh Chaduni, the chief of Haryana unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Chaduni), was quoted by news agency PTI.

Before the farmers marched on the mini-secretariat, they held a mahapanchayat at the grain market in Karnal. This was days after a massive gathering in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, where they said they would oppose the BJP in Assembly elections due in UP and Uttarakhand early next year.

With input from PTI



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