Farmers on way to Delhi detained at Sohna
At least 24 farmers and members of the civil society were taken into preventive detention by the police in Sohna, on their way to Delhi to join the farmer’s agitation, on Tuesday. Nearly 300 farmers and civil society members, including members of Bharatiya Kisan Union and Mewat Vikas Sabha, had gathered at Gandhi Park in Nuh and IMT Sohna, from where to they were to proceed to Delhi to protest against the new farm laws and extend their support to their counterparts.
Protesters said that they were initially stopped by the Nuh Police, but managed to reach IMT Sohna, the final meeting point. Shortly after entering Sohna, they were detained by the police near Raipur barricade. While 20-30 farmers were taken to the Sadar police station, some of them managed to cross the Gurugram border while others returned.
Thousands of farmers across the country have been protesting against the three newly enacted farm laws— The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 — passed by Parliament during the monsoon session. The farmers fear that the new laws will put them at the mercy of large corporations and lead to the removal of the minimum support price they receive on important crops.
“We were proceeding towards Delhi on foot and tractors when we were stopped from doing so by the police near Raipur barricade. We were rounded up in buses by the police and detained at Sohna sadar police station. The police misbehaved with us while detaining us,” said Azad Khan, Haryana vice-president, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).
Salamudeen Meo, Mewat Vikas Sabha president, one of the leaders of the march, said that farmers from different parts of Nuh had assembled with the motive of joining the stir in Delhi on Tuesday but were prevented from doing so by the police. “Police tried to detain the vehicles of those who were leading the march. Around 20-30 of us are at the police station. The police is not telling us under what provision of the law we have been detained,” said Meo.
Ram Kishan Mehlawat, BKU Haryana’s general secretary, who was marching towards Delhi with other farmers, was also detained. “We were stopped at the barricades near Sohna. The police impounded our vehicles but we started walking on foot. Police used force and rounded us up in buses. We have no idea where other farmers are,” said Mehlawat.
He said that the police had detained farmers who were simply walking towards Delhi to raise their voice against the three farm laws that were detrimental to the interest of farmers. “These laws will hurt the farmers and benefit corporates and middlemen. There is no guarantee of minimum support price. Farmers will be left at the mercy of corporates,” said Mehlawat.
Astha Modi, the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), said, “About 24 farmers moving in cars were stopped by the police at Sohna border after crossing Nuh jurisdiction. They were not allowed to cross following which they parked their cars and started walking. We have requested them to return and have tried to pacify them, telling them that they should not risk their lives and others as the coronavirus is on the rise and it may affect their health. We had a peaceful meeting with them,” she said.
Modi refuted charges of inappropriate behaviour or use of force to prevent farmers from entering Gurugram. “No force was applied nor did the situation go out of control. No additional force was called to the spot to control the farmers. Even the farmers did not take law in hand and tried to convince the police with their point of view,” she said.
Yogendra Yadav, convener, Swaraj India, criticised the Gurugram police for detaining farmers. Condemning the move, he said that the arrests were undemocratic. He also took a swipe at chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s earlier comments that farmers from Haryana were not participating in the agitation. “On one hand, chief minister Khattar says that farmers from Haryana are not participating in the movement whereas, on the other hand, they are arresting farmers,” said Yadav.