Farmers staged dharnas on Wednesday demanding the release of nine leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Charuni), including its president Gurnam Singh Charuni, who were arrested after the tillers blocked a national highway demanding that the government procure sunflower seeds at the minimum support price. After being detained Tuesday evening, nine BKU (Charuni) leaders were arrested after a case was lodged under various IPC sections, police said, adding that they were produced before a court Wednesday afternoon.
They were later remanded to 14-day judicial custody, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Shahbad, Randhir Singh said.
Charges pertaining to rioting, unlawful assembly and using of criminal force to deter public servants from discharging duty have been slapped against them, they said.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait reached Shahabad Wednesday afternoon and warned that if the administration failed to release Charuni and others, the national highway will be blocked again.
The farmers led by Charuni had blocked the highway near Shahabad here for over six hours on Tuesday. The police used water cannons and resorted to cane charge to disperse the protesters.
On Wednesday, a group of farmers gathered at the Shahbad-Ladwa Road near the grain market demanding the release of all arrested farmers.
The farmers also sat on a dharna at Nalvi, Kasani, and Rava chowks demanding the release of arrested BKU (Charuni) leaders. They also blocked vehicular traffic to Shahabad for some time.
Protests were also staged in other districts, including at toll plazas in Rohtak, Hisar, Sirsa, Karnal where the farmers demanded release of those arrested in Shahabad case.
Meanwhile, Shahabad MLA Ram Karan Kala, a leader of the ruling alliance, said he would resign from his post as the chairman of the Haryana Sugar Federation if the state government failed to procure sunflower seeds at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) from Wednesday.
Condemning the police 'lathicharge' on the agitating farmers, the JJP leader claimed that he has met Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar thrice over the issue to urge him to resolve the pending issues with the farmers. "But the chief minister maintained that a committee has been formed to resolve the issue," he said, adding that he supports the farmers' demands.
Tikait on Wednesday said an agitation bigger than the one against the now repealed farm laws will have to be launched for a legal guarantee on the minimum support price.
He also condemned the Haryana Police's lathicharge on the protesting farmers. "This is the first lathicharge in the country on those demanding MSP," he said, while adding that MSP for crops is a pan-India issue.
He said the struggle that began in Shahabad would reach the national level as every farmer is concerned about the MSP for different crops.
Tikait also hailed Charuni as a revolutionary and resilient leader whose unwavering determination has been instrumental in the farmers' movement. He affirmed that Charuni will not back down, and the struggle will persist relentlessly.
Sanju Gundiana, a prominent leader of BKU (Charuni), also condemned the use of force against the "peaceful" protesters. He said that the government's alleged attempts to suppress the demonstrations would not succeed.
BKU (Charuni) leaders said the protesters have expanded their agitation by blocking roads in various districts such as Kurukshetra, Karnal, and Kaithal of the state.
The protesting farmers have maintained that they are against the government's move to include sunflower seed in the Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana, under which they said the government will pay a fixed compensation of Rs 1,000 per quintal against the produce sold below MSP.
They claimed they were forced to sell their produce to private buyers at around Rs 4,000 per quintal as against the MSP of Rs 6,400 per quintal.
Demanding that the government procure the produce at the MSP, the farmers said they had given the government time till Monday to accept their demand, but it did not pay heed.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, AAP and INLD, had also targeted the Haryana government over the use of force against the farmers.
Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.