Several farmers were injured in the Bihar capital on Tuesday when police resorted to a lathicharge to stop a massive march to Raj Bhavan against the three controversial farm laws.
Over 10,000 farmers from different parts of Bihar had assembled at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna on the call of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti (ABKSSS).
The Opposition, including the Left parties, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, as well as several organisations of farmers and farm labourers, had professed their support to the protest march.
With plans to protest outside Raj Bhavan to demand the repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee of minimum support price, the farmers had started their march in the afternoon amid heavy police deployment that also had anti-riot vehicles and water cannons.
They walked for around 2km before being stopped by the police at the Dak Bungalow crossing and asked to disperse.
The protesters were determined to push ahead and it led to an altercation with the police, who then lathicharged and dispersed them. At least 35 people from different organisations were injured in the police action and were taken to various dispensaries in the city.
The incident also threw traffic in Patna haywire and normality could be restored only after around three hours.
One of the injured farmers, Rakesh Kumar of Nalanda district, said: “The blows of the lathi are nothing in comparison to what we have to face by selling paddy at Rs 900 to Rs 1,100 per quintal when the MSP is Rs 1,868. The government has declared them (farm laws) without making proper arrangements for purchasing paddy. We are ruined.”
Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha president Ashok Dhawle, who participated in the march, said the farmers’ agitation in Bihar would become stronger.
“We appeal to the farmers and the common people of Bihar to join this struggle to ensure that the country and its people win against the pro-corporate, anti-poor, anti-farmer laws brought by the Centre,” Dhawle said.
ABKSSS Bihar-Jharkhand in-charge and Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha general secretary Rajaram Singh condemned the police action and asked chief minister Nitish Kumar not to use force to quell the agitation of farmers.
“Over 10,000 farmers from different parts of Bihar had come with their legitimate demands and wanted to submit a memorandum to governor Phagu Chauhan in a peaceful manner but the police lathicharged them. The administration showed insensitivity instead of understanding their problem. Nitish Kumar should desist from trying to subdue the farmers by the use of force,” Singh said.
Singh added that this was “just a trailer shown by the farmers of Bihar. If the situation demands, they will travel to Delhi.”