Police lob tear gas shells at farmers in Hisar

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Hisar, May 16 (PTI) Police here on Sunday lobbed tear gas shells and used force to disperse a group of farmers who tried to march towards the venue where Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had gone to inaugurate a COVID hospital. Many people were injured in the violent clash. Khattar inaugurated a 500-bed COVID hospital on a school premises and had left the venue just before the protest took a violent turn. The farmers were stopped before they could reach the venue, police said. They allegedly jumped police barricades after which police used force and lobbed tear gas shells. While farmers claimed that over 50 of them sustained injuries in what they alleged was a police lathicharge, an official spokesperson said over 20 policemen, including a DSP and five policewomen, were also injured. Police claimed some farmers pelted them with stones when they tried to stop them. Five police vehicles were also damaged by the protesters, they said. The incident took place when the farmers, who have been protesting against the Centre's new farm laws, started proceeding towards Hisar from the Ramayan toll plaza to stage a protest against Khattar, who was to inaugurate a 500-bed COVID hospital there. Police detained some agitators, including women. Police claimed they were marching towards the hospital to create obstructions in the chief minister's event. Haryana DGP Manoj Yadava said, 'I appreciate the patience and bravery displayed today by police personnel, in confronting the unruly mob and saving the newly inaugurated Sanjeevni COVID hospital at Hisar from damage.' 'Each of the injured police personnel will be given Rs 5,000 for their diet and medical needs,' he said. Later in the evening, farmers leaders said they will not hold tehsil and district-level protests on Monday in Haryana and UP after the police authorities agreed to release those detained. 'An agreement has been reached between farmers and police administration. The protest programme in Haryana and UP will not happen. All those detained are being released,” BKU leader Rakesh Tikait told reporters here. Farmers are protesting against the Centre's new farm laws since late November and have been opposing public functions of BJP-JJP leaders in the state. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers' unions spearheading the stir against the farm laws, earlier in the day condemned the “brutal assault” on the protesters. A police spokesperson said the protesters broke metal barricade installed on a canal bridge and threw it into the canal. After this, the protesters attacked DSP Abhimanyu Lohan, the spokesperson said. Thereafter, some protesters started entering the Chaudhary Devi Lal Sanjivani Hospital complex set up at Jindal Modern School. At this place, the miscreants also tried to run a tractor over policemen, leaving some of them injured, the spokesperson said. 'The miscreants have also damaged five police vehicles,' he said. 'Surprisingly, even after the conclusion of the hospital's inauguration programme, they tried to enter the premises where the treatment of coronavirus-infected has started today,' he said, adding many of them had intention to commit violence on a large scale. To protest the alleged lathicharge, Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni said farmers had blocked for two hours several highways, including the KMP expressway and the NH-44 at Pipli. They also blocked the Jind-Patiala, Jind-Chandigarh, Jind-Rohtak and Hisar-Chandigarh highways after the incident. Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja condemned the use of force against farmers. “Rather than rolling back the farm laws, the BJP-JJP government is raining lathis on farmers,” she said in a statement, adding that such a government has no right to stay in power and must step down. She also alleged that the chief minister inaugurated the hospital in the presence of a large number of people, putting them at “risk” by not following the COVID protocols. Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, while referring to the police action, said “farmers' turban turned red with blood”. He said by unleashing “such brutality” on farmers, the “General Dyer face of the Khattar government has been exposed”. INLD senior Abhay Singh Chautala also hit out at the state government, saying the 'police lathicharge on peaceful protesting farmers' was condemnable. PTI SUN CORR VSD RDK RDK