With various farmers' organisations threatening to intensify their agitation to press for their demand for the release of all farmers arrested in connection with the death of an ASI, the police have intensified the security in the border districts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran to prevent any untoward incident and thwart the agitation.
ASI Kulbir Singh was found dead after he conducted a raid to take farmers into preventive custody in Geobala village of Tarn Taran district on the eve of their previous agitation.
The Tarn Taran police had initially registered a case against nine identified and some unidentified farmers under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC. But later, after claiming that some arrested farmers had told the police during interrogation that the ASI was beaten up, the Tarn Taran police converted the FIR into section 302 (murder).
Since then, farmers' organisations have been voicing their protest more strongly, demanding that all the farmers arrested in this case be released and the FIR be cancelled. The Tarn Taran police have arrested 10 persons so far.
The farmers, who have already been staging protests at a few places, including Tarn Taran, in protest against the police action, have now decided to hold agitations across the state. Seventeen farmers' organisations have announced a mass agitation across the state from March 18.
The police are keeping a close watch on the situation and have put up nakas on the outskirts of cities and towns to prevent farmers' entry.
Talking to HT, IGP (border zone) RP Mittal said, "We are taking all necessary measures to deal with the situation."
Tarn Taran SSP KS Dhillon said patrolling had been intensified and nakas had been put up at sensitive locations. "We are in regular touch with our seniors and have been keeping them updated on the developments," he said.
It is learnt that extra police force has been deployed to stop farmers from gathering and holding protest demonstrations.
A press release issued by the Kisan Sangharsh Committee said farmers would stage dharnas outside the offices of all the deputy commissioners on March 18.
Alleging that a false case had been registered against the farmers, Kisan Sangharsh Committee head Satnam Singh Pannu said, "We have announced a mass agitation from March 18. The Punjab government must release all the farmers arrested in the past few days and also cancel the FIR. Activists of various farmers' organisations are holding meetings to chalk out a strategy for the agitation."
Meanwhile, farmer activists staged a dharna in Tarn Taran against the police and the administration on Sunday.