The Association of Democratic Rights (AFDR), Punjab, has condemned the recent arrests of about 2,000 farmers and leaders of farmer organisations in Punjab.
At a press conference organised here on Wednesday, the AFDR said the Punjab police, acting in an "undemocratic and barbaric" manner, had implicated farmers and their leaders under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 302 (murder).
The AFDR said farmers were in deep crisis in the state due to the "ruthless" economic policies of the state and central governments, adding that agitating for their demands was the democratic right of farmers.
The association said the state government should have adopted democratic means and engaged the farmers and their organisations in negotiations.
The police had raided 319 locations on the morning of March 6 and arrested 155 farmers' leaders. Subsequently, about 1,350 people were arrested and sent to jails in the state.
The association stated that instead of going in for an independent probe into the death of Tarn Taran assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Kulbir Singh, the police had tried to settle a score and booked 13 farmers' union activists on murder charges under Section 302 of the IPC. "This was done despite the postmortem report mentioning that the ASI died due to cardiac arrest and there were no signs of any injury on his body," the association said.
Association general secretary Prof Jagmohan Singh, state president Ajmer Aulakh, press secretary Buta Singh, organising secretary Narbhinder, finance secretary Tarsem Lal and publication secretary Pritpal were present at the conference.
Seventeen farmers' and agricultural labourers' organisations had given a joint call for 'rail roko' for three hours on March 6 in Punjab. They were demanding that the minimum support price of farm produce should be linked with the price index and the promises made by the state government during negotiations be fulfilled.