Threatening to turn their agitation into a major long-drawn confrontation, protesting farmers have started pitching tents outside the Mini Secretariat in Karnal even as talks between them and administration are expected to resume on Wednesday.
The talks between the two sides had failed on Tuesday after the protesting farmers led by Rakesh Tikait had demanded suspension of the IAS officer who had ordered lathicharge on protesting farmers in Karnal last week. The administration had turned down the demand, resulting in farmers laying siege overnight to the Mini Secretariat.
Though some farmers had left the venue late night, they turned up again in large numbers in the wee hours of Wednesday. Farmers were seen pitching tents indicating that they were willing to prepare for long drawn confrontation. Some farm organisations also organised langars near the protest site, a scene similar to that at Tikri and Singhu borders.
Speaking to News18, farm leader Rakesh Tikait said: “We will sit here till the fulfillment of our demands. This is a struggle for freedom of farmers. Karnal will be another centre of protest like Delhi borders if the demands are not met."
The mobile internet services in entire Karnal district continued to remain shut for the second consecutive day. The farmers are locked in a showdown with the Haryana government over a police lathicharge last month. They were demanding suspension of the then Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha for his briefing to police personnel on August 28 where he told them to “crack their (farmers’) heads”.
On the same day, protesting farmers were lathicharged at Bastara toll plaza as they were opposing a state-level meeting of the BJP.
As farmers from across the districts and other states started arriving in the city on Tuesday, the administration invited their leaders for talks. The two-hour meeting with an 11-member delegation of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) remained inconclusive as the latter remained adamant on their demand for Sinha’s suspension.
The farmers then gathered at the local grain market.
From there, they marched towards the mini secretariat, 5 km away. They broke two barricades near the complex following which the police used water cannons to disperse them. There was, however, no other serious confrontation.