Farmers Vow to Intensify their Protest in Response to Arrests and Crackdown

The government’s intent is to intimidate us with these actions, but we refuse to be cowed down. The accusations against Navdeep and Gurukeerat are baseless. We'll engage in a legal battle and ensure their exoneration, they said.
Farmers Vow to Intensify their Protest in Response to Arrests and Crackdown

New Delhi: After 48 days since they began to march to lay a siege in the national capital, farmers continue to be stationed at Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border, where they have been stopped by security forces. Simultaneously, the Haryana Police apprehended farmer activists Navdeep Singh Jalbera and Gurukirat Singh at Mohali airport, citing a first information report (FIR) filed against them during the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, which began on February 14.

In addition, the police are also conducting raids at the residence of farmer leaders and their possible whereabouts and issuing notices to approximately 50 of them to present themselves before authorities.

Meanwhile, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mukti Morcha had scheduled a gathering on March 31 to remember 21-year-old Shubhakaran Singh from Bathinda who died on February 21 after allegedly sustaining a gunshot injury at the Khanauri border.

In his remembrance, the agitating peasants organised a ‘Kalash Yatra’ from the deceased hometown of Baloh on March 15 to conclude on March 31 with a meeting at Ambala.

In light of these events, farmers are raising numerous concerns regarding the timing of arrests of both young farmers.

Navdeep, who is also known as the Watercannon Boy from the 2020 farmers’ movement, was apprehended by the Ambala police at Mohali. He was produced before a magistrate at Ambala on March 29 and remanded to police custody for two days.

The cops stated that Jalbera was arrested in relation to a case filed against him on February 13 under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including charges of attempt to murder and assault on law enforcement officers.

As per the FIR, farmer union leaders went ahead with their protest despite Section 144 of the Cr.P.C. being in place. They purportedly attempted to breach barricades and hurled stones at security forces stationed near Shambhu Toll Plaza.

Farmers Vow to Intensify their Protest in Response to Arrests and Crackdown
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According to a press statement issued by the SKM (Non-Political) and the KMM, the Haryana government action was intended to disturb the March 31 meeting. The statement said the cops have pasted notices at the residence of at least 50 farmer leaders, asking them to appear before them for questioning.

These police actions encountered significant resistance in villages. In numerous instances, women, elderly individuals and youth jointly prevented police entry into the villages.

“We are not going to be afraid, we will intensify the movement,” the peasants said in the statement.

“Despite the government’s attempts to intimidate us through these arrests and notices, we stand undeterred,” one of the farmer leaders Ranveer Singh Dugri told The Mooknayak

“While we maintain our peaceful stance, the government continues taking actions against us. We will vehemently resist every move. Unfounded accusations have been directed towards Navdeep and Gurukeerat. We intend to pursue legal recourse and refute these charges,” said the 75-year-old.

Harvinder Singh, who has been staging the protest at the Shambhu border since the beginning of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, asserted, “These arrests are aimed at instilling fears and weakening our agitation. But this intimidation tactic won’t work.”

The 47-year-old man further said, “We want to make it clear to the government that we will not bow down and tolerate the police action silently. We will respond to all actions taken against us. The movement is gaining momentum and expanding.”

He said that today, on April 1, farmers from every village in Punjab will converge at the Shambhu border in a show of strength. 

‘Govt, Police Crossed All Moral Boundaries’

Addressing the media, farmer leaders strongly condemned the arrests, accusing the government and the police of crossing all moral boundaries. They highlighted instances such as the direct firing on “unarmed” farmers resulting in Shubhakaran’s death. 

Furthermore, the leaders urged the Punjab government to clarify its stance regarding the young farmers arrested by the Haryana Police. They threatened they would disrupt rail and road traffic if the arrested farmers were not released.

The leaders emphasized that the farmers of Haryana and Punjab have historically resisted government coercion and oppression and will continue to do so.

The protesting farmers assert their determination to continue the agitation until their demands, including the legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP), are met.

-Translated by Ayanbha Banerjee

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