Farmers protest in Haryana against sedition case amid high alert
Hundreds of farmers knocked down police barricades during their protest in Haryana's Sirsa district this afternoon against a sedition case and arrests made in connection to that. They have been demanding the release of all those arrested and a revocation of the sedition charges against all accused. Five farmers were arrested in raids on Thursday for allegedly attacking BJP leader Ranbir Gangwa.
Over 10,000 policemen deployed in Sirsa today
Sirsa has been on a high alert since this morning. More than 10,000 policemen have been deployed there to prevent farmers from reaching the Sirsa Police chief's office. "Over 10,000 personnel from across all districts of Haryana, Rapid Action Force, and paramilitary forces have been deployed along with 30 checkpoints so that nobody disrupts law and order," the district's police head Arpit Jain said.
Meet between farmers, officials started around 3 pm
The Kisan Ekta Morcha, a body representing the protesting farmers, said the meeting between farmer leaders and the Sirsa district officials had started around 3 pm today. "Several important leaders, including Rakesh Tikait, of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, are present in the meeting," it tweeted. Earlier in the day, Tikait had announced he would go to Sirsa for the protest.
Ranbir Gangwa was allegedly attacked on Sunday
On Sunday, Ranbir Gangwa, who is the Deputy Speaker in the Haryana Assembly, was allegedly attacked and his official vehicle was damaged during a protest by farmers against the central government's three controversial farm laws. Over 100 farmers were charged with sedition and five of them were arrested on Thursday. This is the first time a sedition case has been filed against protesting farmers.
Farmers' group criticized the sedition charges
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of protesting farmers, has criticized the sedition charges, terming them "false, frivolous, and cooked up." "SKM strongly condemns false, frivolous, and cooked-up sedition charges, and indeed all other charges, against farmers and farmer leaders under instructions of the anti-farmer BJP government of Haryana," it had said earlier this week.
Supreme Court has questioned the relevance of sedition law
The case against protesting farmers has notably come at a time when the Supreme Court has questioned the relevance of the sedition law. "The sedition law is a colonial law. Do we still need the law in our country after 75 years of Independence," Chief Justice NV Ramana had remarked this week. "Is the law still necessary in the statute book in our country?"
What is the farmers' protest all about?
Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders to protest against three new agricultural laws. They are demanding a complete withdrawal of the laws and multiple rounds of discussions between them and the government have failed to end the agitation. The Centre says the reforms will uplift farmers, while they argue that the laws will make them vulnerable to big corporates.