Haryana home minister Anil Vij on Thursday said the government was ready for an “impartial” probe into “the entire Karnal episode” but warned that farm leaders too could face action if they were found to be at fault.
Farmers continued with their dharna outside the district headquarters for the third day, demanding action over the August 28 lathicharge on protesting peasants.
Their main demands centre around the suspension of then sub-divisional magistrate Ayush Sinha, who was caught on camera telling policemen to “break heads” of farmers.
Minister Vij made it clear that “nobody can be hanged without a probe just because someone demands it”.
“We are ready for an impartial probe, but this will not only be related to the (former Karnal) SDM. It will include the entire Karnal episode. In this (probe), if farmers or their leaders are found guilty, then whatever action is deemed fit will be taken,” Vij told reporters in Ambala.
The minister added: “Only genuine demands (of farmers protesting in Karnal) can be accepted.”
“We cannot hang anyone because someone says so.… Is the country’s IPC (Indian Penal Code) different and the farmers’ IPC different? It cannot be like this and punishment is always given as per the offence committed. To find out the offence, a probe has to be conducted,” Vij said, referring to the peasants’ demand of suspension of Sinha.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella outfit of peasants’ unions leading the protests against three farm laws of the Centre, had earlier said a murder case should be registered against Sinha.
About the farmers protesting in Karnal, Vij said anyone had the right to protest in a peaceful manner.
“Farmers are holding an agitation in Karnal, which is their democratic right,” the minister said. “Our officials are regularly holding talks with them. Dialogue is an integral part of any democracy.”
The Haryana government has extended the suspension of mobile Internet services in the district till Thursday midnight, an order issued by the state home department said.
A second round of talks between district officials and farmers protesting over the police lathicharge had failed on Wednesday, after which the protesters said they would continue their sit-in “indefinitely” at the district headquarters.
The protesters are staying put at the gate of the mini-secretariat complex in Karnal. Farm union leaders have said officials and the public won’t be stopped from entering the complex.
The farm leaders have demanded the registration of a case against those involved in the lathicharge in Karnal. The protest leaders have claimed that a farmer died after the August 28 violence, an allegation rejected by the administration.
The farm leaders have demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh and a government job for the family of the deceased farmer.