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Sedition Case: Farmers Start Indefinite Sit-in as Talks with Officials Fail at Sirsa

On Saturday, farmers scuffled with police at different places in the district while marching towards the mini-secretariat. (Image for representation)

On Saturday, farmers scuffled with police at different places in the district while marching towards the mini-secretariat. (Image for representation)

The incident had taken place on Sunday and police had booked over 100 people, mostly unidentified, for sedition, obstructing public servants in discharge of their duty, murderous attempt on an elected representative and damaging public property.

Farmers sat on an indefinite dharna at the mini-secretariat here after failed talks with the district administration over the slapping of sedition charge against members of their community after an alleged attack on the Haryana deputy speaker's car. The incident had taken place on Sunday and police had booked over 100 people, mostly unidentified, for sedition, obstructing public servants in discharge of their duty, murderous attempt on an elected representative and damaging public property.

Five farmers among over 100 were arrested on Thursday for allegedly attacking BJP leader and Haryana Deputy Speaker Ranbir Gangwa's car. On Saturday, farmers scuffled with police at different places in the district while marching towards the mini-secretariat, police said.

The entire Sirsa was converted into a cantonment with heavy deployment of police and para military forces to stop farmers from breaking law and order, police said. Protesting against the sedition charge, the farmers under the banner of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha and led by BKU leader Rakesh Tikait assembled at the mini-secretariat. Earlier, farmers held a mahapanchayat at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Stadium here.

The protest call by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of unions agitating against the Centre's farm laws, was given in the wake of a recent observation by the apex court that the law of sedition cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling miscreants. The talks between farmers and district administration on the registration of the sedition case could not reach a logical conclusion, Tikait told reporters.

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The farmers have decided to stage an indefinite sit-in in front of the mini-secretariat to protest the arrests and slapping of the sedition cases, he said, adding that a 20-member delegation of farmers met officials for over two hours over the issue. While the district administration maintained that action against arrested will be taken by the court, the delegation sought the withdrawal of the sedition charge. "Farmers are being booked under false and frivolous cases, ''Tikait told officials during the meeting.

He accused the Haryana government of making attempts to disrupt peaceful protests against the Centre's contentious farm laws. Ram Niwas, in-charge of the Civil Lines police station, said for attacking Gangwa's vehicle, farmers, including their leaders Prahlad Singh Bharu Kheda and Harcharan Singh, were booked under sedition and other charges.

Efforts are being made to arrest other farmers who are still being identified through the CCTV footage of the July 11 incident, he said. Meanwhile, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said, "The country's law is supreme and that law does not function on anyone's advice, be it a politician like me." He said the law functions at its own pace and in its own ways, and such activities have no effect on the legal procedures.

Meanwhile, former Leader of the Opposition and INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala objected to the use of the sedition law by the state's BJP-JJP government. "It is a law of British times. The British had made this law so that any Satyagrahi could be imprisoned by accusing him of rebellion or terror," he said. Protesting farmers have been opposing public functions of the BJP and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) in the state.

Farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi's borders for over seven months in protest against the Centre's three agriculture laws.

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first published:July 17, 2021, 21:52 IST