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Police cane charge farmers, Congress leaders in Rajasthan; scores injured

Eyewitnesses said some shots were fired in the air, but police denied the charge. One police officer was also injured in the clashes.

rajasthan elections 2018 Updated: Sep 08, 2018 13:12 IST
Manoj Ahuja and Aparnesh Goswami
Manoj Ahuja and Aparnesh Goswami
Hindustan Times, Jaipur/Bikaner
Police cane charge farmers,Police cane charge Congress leaders,Vasundhara Raje’s Gaurav Yatra
Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje during 'Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra', in Bikaner on September 6, 2018.(PTI Photo)

Scores of farmers and Congress workers were injured on Friday evening when police cane charged and lobbed teargas shells to disperse a crowd in Rajasthan’s Sri Ganganagar district barely an hour before chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s Gaurav Yatra was to pass through the site.

Eyewitnesses said some shots were fired in the air, but police denied the charge. One police officer was also injured in the clashes.

Police arrested 15 people, including Sri Ganganagar Kisan Samiti convener Ranjit Singh Raju and Congress leader Prathipal Singh Sandhu, who were among 300–400 people who had assembled at Padampur road in Sri Ganganagar, from where the yatra was to pass.

The Samiti’s leaders said they wanted to submit a memorandum to Raje on their long-pending demand of water for irrigation and purchase of crop at minimum support prices (MSP).

When they learnt that the chief minister would not meet them, they assembled at ‘CC Head’ on Padampur road to stage a protest. Some Congress leaders were also present with black flags, sources said.

Initially, the police tried to pacify them and asked them to lift the road blockade, but the crowd refused to budge, and subsequently police had to use force to disperse the mob.

A chaos ensued and some protesters started to jostle with police personnel following which police intensified the cane charge and lobbed teargas shells.

Some of them were admitted to a local hospital. A circle inspector who suffered injuries on his face was also admitted to the hospital.

Samiti member, Rajendra Godara said they were peacefully waiting to present a memorandum to the CM. “Suddenly, the police attacked us with the canes and fired rubber bullets targeting the farmers. Police also fired several rounds in the air.”

Inspector general of police, Bikaner range, Dinesh M N said, “Charges of firing rubber bullets or firing rounds in the air are false and baseless.”

The police had earlier detained 105 people, including farmers and a former Congress MLA Daulatraj Sameja, from another location in Sri Ganganagar district for planning to stage a protest.

Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot said it was unfortunate that the government was using force to suppress farmers’ protest.

“While the chief minister talks about listening to people’s grievances, she had no time to meet the farmers who are demanding water for irrigation and purchase of crop at minimum support prices (MSP),” he tweeted.

Rajasthan BJP spokesperson Mukesh Parikh said “some organisations provoked the farmers” to disrupt Raje’s Gaurav Yatra.

All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) president Amra Ram said the cane-charging on farmers had shown the true nature of the government and promised to launch an agitation.

Raje’s 40-day Gaurav Yatra was launched on August 4 and is scheduled to culminate on September 30. Rajasthan goes to polls later this year.

First Published: Sep 08, 2018 13:12 IST