Following the clash between administration and farmers over the eviction of panchayat land at Hariau village in Patran, the police have booked more than 100 farmers, who had opposed the drive, in attempt to murder case. The police have also arrested 21 farmers and sent them to jail.
Meanwhile, opposing the police's move, the farmers have started a chain hunger strike in front of the deputy commissioner's office, Patiala. The opposition parties, including Congress and AAP, have also condemned the lathicharge on farmers, which took place on Thursday.
The Punjab police had lathicharged the farmers yesterday, when they opposed the administration's drive of taking over of the panchayat land at village Hariau by pelting stones on police, civil administration and electricity board officials. However, after using force, the administration managed to take control of the land and sealed all the residential houses and snapped electricity connections by removing the transformers.
In the FIR lodged against farmers, Paramjit Kaur, block panchayat and development officer, Patran, alleged that farmers pelted stones, used sharp-edged weapons and manhandled the officials of various departments when they tried to implement the Punjab and Haryana high court orders of taking possession of the illegally occupied government land by farmers. She said that in the "murderous attack", several persons were injured.
The police have booked around 20 persons by name, while FIR has been registered against more than 100 unidentified farmers. The police have formally arrested some farmers who were living in the land in question by building their houses.
On the other side, the farmers under the banner of Bharti Kisan Union (Dakaunda), started a chain hunger strike and permanent protest in front of the Patiala DC office. Large number of farmers from the entire district gathered in front of the DC office and demanded that the land should be restored back to the farmers.
BKU (Dakunda) district president Darshan Pal said there were nearly 60 families, who after partition, had came from Pakistan and started tilling this land, which was allotted to them verbally. "They had made the barren land fertile by spending money and time, but the administration has forcefully evicted them," he said, adding farmers have some relief orders from various courts, but the police didn't listen to them and forcefully evicted them.
"The act of using force on farmers and throwing them out of their land reflects the repressive attitude of the state against the public. The farmers won't lift the strike till the administration does not restore the land back to them and withdraw the cases filed against them," Pal said.
AAP, Cong term lathi-charge barbaric, Gandhi visits Haraiu
The opposition parties, including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress, on Friday termed the lathicharge on farmers as a barbaric act on the part of the Punjab government.
Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi on Friday visited village Haraiu and expressed his shock and anguish. Terming the act of police as brutal, he said attacking women, elderly persons and children who were protesting peacefully, was uncalled for.
"I met the people with broken bones, serious injuries and saw the devastation caused by the Punjab police in the form of locked and sealed houses, broken chulhas, tubewells, transformers, toilets and other household goods. It looked as if some enemy forces have attacked the village. Instead of taking action against the erring police officials, the government has registered attempt to murder cases and other serious charges against the villagers who are victims. The whole village is in panic," Dr Gandhi said.
Dr Gandhi demanded that the land should be returned to the tillers, who were in possession of this land for the last six decades.
"On one hand the influential, mighty and politically connected people are forcibly occupying 1,000 acres of Shamlat land in Punjab and no action is being taken against them. On the other hand, poor farmers are being forcibly evicted in atrocious manner," Dr Gandhi said.
Demanding immediate withdrawal of false cases against the farmers, the Patiala MP demanded for action against the officials who committed atrocious against the villagers.
Later, Dr Gandhi met the injured farmers in Rajindra Hospital and asked the hospital administration to render all help to them. Dr Gandhi also visited the dharna site outside the district complex and decided to take up the matter with district police officer. He also promised to raise this issue in the Parliament on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Congress also condemned the incident. The party vice-presidents -- Lal Singh and Brahm Mohindra -- said it was wrong on the part of the government to use force for evicting the farmers who had come from Pakistan and had started living here. They said that the government should generously allot the lands to farmers or lease it out to them for 99 years.