Police lathi-charge farmers, Congress workers on Gaurav Yatra route, 7 hospitalised
Fifteen people, including Sriganganagar Kisan Samiti convener Ranjit Singh Raju and Congress leader Prithvipal Singh Sandhu, have been arrested.Updated: Sep 09, 2018 00:33 IST
More than a dozen people, including farmers and Congress workers, were injured when police cane charged and lobbed teargas shells to disperse a crowd in Sriganganagar, district barely an hour before chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s Gaurav Yatra was to pass through the site on Friday evening.
A police officer was also injured in the clashes.
Fifteen people, including Sriganganagar Kisan Samiti convener Ranjit Singh Raju and Congress leader Prithvipal Singh Sandhu, have been arrested in the incident, police said.
Sandhu, who also sustained injuries in the incident, was later referred to Medanta hospital in Sriganganagar, as he has a heart condition. The police officer, Narendra Punia, who got hit by a stone on his face, was also admitted at the same hospital.
Sriganganagar Kisan Samiti 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) during the yatra. When they learnt that the chief minister would not meet them, around 300-400 people assembled at ‘CC Head’ on Padampur road in Sriganganagar to stage a protest, as the Raje’s yatra was to pass through there. Some Congress leaders were also present with black flags, sources said.
When police asked the protesters to lift the road blockade, the crowd refused to budge. Subsequently, the police used force to disperse the mob. A chaos ensued and some protesters started to jostle with the police personnel, following which police intensified the cane charge and lobbed teargas shells.
At least 14 people suffered injuries that needed medical treatment. Seven people were admitted at the Sriganganara hospital till Saturday evening.
Rajendra Godara, a member of the Sriganganagar Kisan Samiti, said they were peacefully waiting to present a memorandum to the chief minister. “Suddenly, the police attacked us with the canes and fired rubber bullets targeting the farmers. Police also fired several rounds in the air.”
However, inspector general of police, Bikaner range, Dinesh MN said, “Charges of firing rubber bullets or firing rounds in the air are false and baseless.”
The police had earlier detained 105 people, including a former Congress legislator Daulatraj Sameja, from another location in Sriganganagar 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 threatened to launch an agitation.
Sriganganagar collector Gyanaram could not be contacted for comments.
Meanwhile, addressing a rally at Sadulshahar in Sriganganagar district on Saturday, Raje said, “My government has left no stone unturned to provide relief to farmers, right from farm to market.”
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.