The Haryana Police on Thursday lathicharged farmers and fired tear gas shells after a group broke barricades at Shahjahanpur in Rajasthan in their attempt to march towards the national capital.
Hundreds of farmers, mainly from Rajasthan and Haryana, have been agitating at the Shahjahanpur border in Alwar district against three contentious farm bills that they say will hurt them. Tensions flared up on Thursday as some of them on tractor-trailers tried to force their way into neighbouring Haryana.
As the group pressed forward and removed barricades on the Jaipur-Delhi National Highway, the Haryana Police tried to stop them using a water cannon and tear gas even as their leaders urged them not go towards the national capital.
“Haryana police used mild force on agitating farmers and also fired half-a-dozen tear gas shells when farmers tried to enter Haryana,” Bhiwadi superintendent of police Ram Murti Joshi said.
While farmers on around 25 tractor-trailers pushed past the Haryana Police barriers, others stayed behind on the Rajasthan side, police said, according to news agency PTI. It reported that farmer leaders at the site made it clear that the protesters who forced their way into Haryana did not have their consent.
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“Haryana Police detained nearly 200 farmers seated on tractor trolleys,” Joshi added.
Rewari superintendent of police Abhishek Jorwal told PTI over the phone that there were some young people “who came with tractors and broke through the barricades”.
“We tried to stop them and gently persuade them. However, they were very aggressive and turned violent. They were not even listening to farmer leaders,” he added.
Another police officer said the group became violent and at least one of them tried to drive his tractor in a reckless manner, endangering lives of police personnel and some others who tried to stop it.
Meanwhile, farmers’ leaders at Shahjahanpur called for peace in the agitation.
“We are sitting here peacefully and asking our members not to resort to violence,” Kisan Mahapanchayat president Rampal Jat said. “We have sent some of our members to talk to those who entered Haryana to convince them to return,” Jat added.
Nagaur parliamentarian Hanuman Beniwal, whose Rashtriya Loktantrik Party quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on December 26 over the new farm laws, said it was done by some “overexcited youngsters”.
“Delhi march is not that important because we want to get the issue resolved through dialogue with the government,” he said.
Thousands of farmers across the country are protesting against the laws. A large group, mostly comprising those from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key border points near Delhi since November-end.