Punjab: A day after Sangrur clash, 53 farmers booked for murder bid
Sangrur’s senior police superintendent Surendra Lamba said meeting with farmers ended on a positive note and we have agreed to most of their demands
A day after a farmer died during a protest in Sangrur, the police arrested two farmers and booked 53 on the charge of attempt to murder.
Meanwhile, members of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Azad) continued to protest near the Longowal police station demanding registration of a case of murder against the police for using force in chief minister Bhagwant Mann’s home district and cancellation of FIR registered against the farmers.
Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) also extended support to BKU (Ekta-Azad) and their demands.
On Monday, the clash was sparked when the police tried to stop farmers from heading towards the toll plaza over the detention of some farm leaders ahead of a demonstration in Chandigarh.
A farmer, Pritam Singh (70), was crushed to death under the wheel of a trailer attached to a modified vehicle during the protest at Longowal, while five policemen were also injured. Manjit Kaur, wife of the deceased farmer, said, “He promised to return home by evening, but we came to know about his death on Tuesday morning.”
At least 16 farm unions, including BKU (Ekta-Azad), had planned a demonstration in Chandigarh on Tuesday to seek compensation for losses caused by floods, but ahead of the protest, the police detained senior leaders of farm organisations. Therefore, farmers decided to make toll plazas free to seek release of detained leaders and members of BKU (Ekta-Azad).
The clash ensued when the police tried to stop them from moving ahead to block a road and a toll plaza near Badbar village on the Sangrur-Barnala highway.
Sangrur’s senior police superintendent Surendra Lamba said a few farmer leaders provoked protesters to break barricades. “We are yet to lodge an FIR (first information report) over the death. We are waiting for the family of the farmer and will act according to their complaint.”
Police said they were scanning videos of the clash to identify others who were involved in attacking the police and that 18 of the 53 accused have been named in the matter.
Lamba said members of a faction of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Azad) sought to block the Sangrur-Barnala national highway and Badbar toll plaza but police refused to let them do so. “The farmers forced their way through barricades using tractor-trailers,” he said.
A case under Sections 307, 323, 353, 186, 148 and 149 of the IPC was registered against farmers at Longowal police station.
Manjit Singh Nyal, senior leader of BKU (Ekta-Azad) said, “We will continue the protest until our demands — cancellation of FIR registered against farmers, registration of case under Section 302 against cops and release of detained and arrested farmers — are met.”
Meanwhile, senior leaders of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) also held a meeting here at Kaimbwala village near Longowal.
Satnam Singh Behru, senior leader of the SKM, said, “We have passed a resolution to support BKU (Ekta-Azad) in their demand of registration of FIR under Section 302 against the responsible police official. Negligence of these cops led to the death of the farmer. Besides, the case registered against farmers should be withdrawn and arrested and detailed leaders should be released.”
“Besides, a meeting of the national body of the SKM will be held in Chandigarh on September 2, where they will take a decision on the next course of action,” he added.
Meanwhile, the body of the deceased farmer is lying in the mortuary of Government Rajindra Hospital in Patiala. The family members and farmers did not allow postmortem of the body. They are demanding to shift the body to Sangrur civil hospital. Farmers are saying that they will not cremate the body until their demands are met.
In a late night meeting between Patiala range IG MS Chhina, Sangrur SSP Surendra Lamba and leaders of BKU (Ekta-Azad), both the parties reached a consensus on few demands.
SSP Lamba said, “The meeting ended on a positive note and we have agreed to most of the demands, including compensation to family member of the deceased farmer. Now, the state has to take a decision on these demands.”
He said, “We had detained six leaders of the BKU (Ekta-Azad), including their president Jaswinder Longowal, and all of them have been released.”