Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday hit out at the police action against farmers in Haryana's Karnal district. Taking to Twitter, the Wayanad MP posted a picture of a man who was badly injured as a result of the lathi charge. Gandhi wrote in Hindi: "Again the blood of farmers is shed... and India bows its head in shame."
The use of force by the police invited severe criticism from various political parties.
Strongly condemning the action, senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted, "Khattar Sahab, today you have rained lathis on Haryanvis' soul. coming generations will remember the blood of farmers which has been spilled on the roads." Indian National Lok Dal senior leader Abhay Singh Chautala also strongly condemned the police action.
Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav said the lathi charge exposed the true face of the Haryana Police. "They (farmers) were protesting against the visit of CM Khattar and other BJP leaders to Karnal. This is the true face of Haryana police," Yadav tweeted.
According to news agency PTI, around 10 people were injured as police allegedly lathi-charged a group of farmers disrupting traffic movement on a highway while heading towards Karnal to protest against a BJP meeting.
The affected routes included the Fatehabad-Chandigarh, Gohana-Panipat and the Jind-Patiala highways, and the Ambala-Chandigarh and the Hisar-Chandigarh national highways.
Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni alleged that the police brutally lathi-charged the protesting farmers, leaving many injured.
Several protesters present at the site near the Bastara toll plaza around 15 km from Karnal claimed to have witnessed 8-10 people sustain injuries in the police action.
The police, however, said only mild force was used as the protesters were blocking the highway, affecting traffic movement.
Farmers protesting the central farm laws have been opposing public functions of the BJP-JJP combine in Haryana. Several farmers had gathered at the Bastara toll plaza near Karnal, responding to a call given by the BKU.
Citing section 144 of the CrPC imposed in the area banning assembly of five or more people, the police made several announcements over loud speakers, declaring the gathering by the protesters "unlawful".
Initially, they asked the farmers to disperse, but resorted to force as the protesters refused to budge.
The police said the protesters were bent on moving towards the venue of the BJP meeting in Karnal. All roads leading to the venue had been heavily barricaded.
"Many farmers were injured after police brutally lathi-charged them without any provocation. Some even could be seen with blood all over their clothes," Chaduni said, strongly condemning the police action.
He said that as part of their ongoing agitation against the farm laws, the farmers had decided to hold a peaceful protest against BJP leaders, for which they had assembled at the Bastara toll plaza.
(With PTI inputs)
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