KARNAL, India — The government of the northern Indian state, Haryana, announced the suspension of the internet services in its Karnal district from Sept. 7, ahead of a maha panchayat (congregation of people from several neighboring areas, led by local leaders in rural areas) and the call to gather in and around the mini-secretariat in protest against the charges of police against them on Aug. 28.

District officials said that to maintain law and order in the district, the internet services will remain suspended till midnight on Sept. 7, where Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code is already in place. Under Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code, public assemblies are banned.

The protests began Nov. 26, 2020, against three farm laws introduced by the government in September 2020, which purportedly aim to break the monopoly of state government-run marketplaces, allowing farmers to sell directly to private entities.

The farmers believe the move will reduce the authority of state governments as their revenues from the markets will dwindle.

“As a precautionary measure, we have written to the government to suspend the internet service in the district for 24 hours as to maintain law and order situation, and Section 144 has been imposed till further orders,” said Nishant Yadav, the District Magistrate of Karnal.

Police have stepped up security in the district and have announced diversions in anticipation of the protest.

“The main National Highway No 44 (Ambala-Delhi) may see some traffic disruptions in Karnal district,” said Yadav.

“Therefore, the public using National Highway 44 are advised to avoid journey through Karnal town or otherwise use alternative routes to go to their destination on Sept. 7. All citizens are being informed about these arrangements in advance so that they can plan and modify their journey accordingly, to avoid any inconvenience.”

The farmer leaders met with the Karnal administration to discuss the Karnal Mahapanchayat on Sept. 7 and the gherao of the mini secretariat.

“No outcome from the meeting with Karnal admin. We will go ahead with our panchayat,” said Gurnam Singh Charuni, the Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union chief.

“We held talks with farmers. Their main demands were that the farmers who got injured during the lathi-charge at Bastara toll plaza on Aug. 28 should be paid compensation, including the farmer who died on Aug. 29 from a heart attack should also be paid compensation by the government,” said Yadav.

“Secondly, demanding registration of a First Information Report against those officers who had allegedly ordered a lathi charge on agitators.”

He said they have informed all the people who participated in the protest, violated the law, blocked the National Highway, and took the law into their own hands.

“Hence no compensation will be given to law violators,” said Yadav. “Their demand was not justified, and no action will be taken against our official. We will not allow them to block the National Highway and gherao mini secretariat.”

“We have deployed 40 companies, ten including 10 companies of paramilitary forces to maintain the law and order situation,” said Ganga Ram Poonia, Superintendent of Police (Karnal Range).

“Police are fully alert over the gherao call, and all security measures have been beefed up to prevent any untoward incident.”

Ahead of a Mahapanchayat in Karnal by farmers, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij requested farmers to protest peacefully. The state machinery is prepared and has made suitable arrangements, including deploying adequate security and creating route diversions.

“Everyone is allowed to raise their voices and to hold peaceful protests in a democracy,” said Vij.

“Tomorrow farmers are planning a protest, they are welcome to do so, ten but the protest should be peaceful and should not cause any hindrance to the public.”

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, heading the farmers’ agitation against three farm laws, has given a call for the gherao of the secretariat. They are demanding registration of a First Information Report against those officers who had allegedly ordered a lathi charge on agitators during their protest against an event of Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnal on Aug. 28.

“Sufficient force has been deployed. I have directed the Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Navdeep Singh Virk to be present on the spot and handle the situation peacefully,” said Vij.

“It is also the responsibility of farmer leaders to maintain the peace during the protest, and all measures would be taken to contain any kind of untoward incidents and safety of citizens.”

Haryana Police has tightened security arrangements because of the call for gherao of Karnal Mini Secretariat on Sept. 7 by several farmer organizations.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which is heading the farmers’ agitation against three farm laws, has given a call for gherao of the secretariat demanding registration of a First Information Report against those officers who had allegedly ordered a lathi charge on agitators during their protest against a Bharatiya Janata Party event in Karnal on Aug. 28.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra



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