Tohana incident: Farmers threaten to gherao police stations if JJP MLA Babli doesn’t apologise

·4-min read

Chandigarh, Jun 2 (PTI) Protesting farmers in Haryana on Wednesday said they will gherao all police across the state on June 7 if JJP MLA Devender Singh Babli did not tender an apology by June 6 for allegedly hurling abuses at them during a protest in Tohana in Fatehabad district.

A group of protesters tried to march towards Babli's residence in Tohana city on Wednesday evening but were stopped by the heavy police contingent deployed there. Around 25-30 protestors were taken into custody by police.

Later, some protesters reached Sadar police station in Fatehabad demanding the release of those detained.

Earlier in the day, after Babli accused a group of protesting farmers of launching a 'murderous attempt' on him during a protest at Tohana on Tuesday, Haryana's Home Minister Anil Vij issued a warning to those taking the law into their hands.

Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni said, 'We have conveyed to the local administration that either Babli should apologise by June 6 or if he doesn't then police should register a case against him under relevant provisions of law for hurling abuses and threatening farmers.” “If Babli does not apologise and if no case is registered against him, then on June 7 we will gherao all police stations in the state for two hours. This will be followed by more protests in Tohana in coming days and later we will urge Khap panchayats to announce his social boycott,' he added.

About protesters who tried to gherao Babli's residence in the evening, Chaduni said there was no call for that and some people had gone there on their own.

Distancing himself from such protesters, Chaduni, in a video message, said, “They are a handful (people) who want to bring a bad name to the agitation and become heroes. When it was unanimously decided to give time till June 6, still a few (people) went to MLA's residence to gherao it and we learnt they were detained.” He said Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s (SKM) call is only to hold peaceful protests and abide by decisions taken collectively by the farmers’ leadership.

Farmers in large numbers took out a march in Tohana on Wednesday, demanding that either Babli apologise, or else, police should register an FIR against him for allegedly using abusive language against them.

Addressing the protesting farmers, Chaduni said, 'Babli should apologise and if he fails to do so, an FIR should be registered against him. The police should also withdraw the case lodged against some farmers in connection with Tuesday's incident.' Earlier in the day, Minister Vij warned those protesters who take law into their own hands.

'I have said from day one that holding protests in a peaceful manner is their democratic right, but no one is allowed to take the law into their hands.

'The way Tuesday's incident unfolded, such things will not be tolerated. Strict action will be taken against those taking law into their hands,' he told reporters in Ambala.

When asked that the windscreen of Babli’s car was broken and his personal assistant was injured in the incident, Vij said an FIR has been lodged and details have been recorded.

The minister said he had earlier maintained that the protesters can show black flags standing 200 metres away, but the demonstration should be peaceful.

'What type of agitation (by farmers) is this that elected representatives are not being allowed to take part in any public function, visit hospitals to enquire about the wellbeing of patients or freely travel to their homes? Such things will not be tolerated,' he said.

Several farmer groups in the state have been opposing the public functions of the BJP-JJP leaders.

When contacted, Babli said, 'Some unruly elements tried to make a murderous attempt on me, hit my vehicle three times, my personal assistant was injured and they are demanding my apology. Is there a 'goonda raj' in the state?' 'If such incidents keep happening and elected representatives are targeted like this, how will the common man feel safe?' he asked.

Babli denied he had used any abusive language.

Babli, a leader of the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), a partner of the BJP in the ruling coalition in Haryana, was shown black flags by the protesters in Tohana, following which he accused them of launching a 'murderous attempt' on him and causing injuries to his personal assistant and smashing the windscreen of his SUV.

The incident took place on Tuesday when the legislator was on his way to attend an event on administering anti-Covid vaccines to differently-abled people at the civil hospital in Tohana. PTI SUN VSD AQS AQS

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