Haryana standoff ends as government orders probe into Karnal incident
A week-long standoff between farmers and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Haryana ended today after the fourth round of discussions. The state government assured that an inquiry committee will be set up to probe the August 28 Karnal baton-charge incident and the role of IAS officer Ayush Sinha, after which farmers' leaders called off their protest.
After Saturday's meeting, farmers' leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni and senior IAS officer Devender Singh held a joint press conference. "The state government has accepted our demand," Chadhuni said. "We have decided to call off the protest." "Farmers are our brothers. We have reached a respectable and amicable solution on all the demands that were raised," said officer Singh.
The inquiry committee will be headed by a retired judge, officials said, adding that Sinha will remain on leave until the completion of the probe. The government further assured farmers that two family members of Sushil Kajal, the farmer who died after the August 28 incident, will be given a job. Farmers had been demanding financial compensation for the family.
On August 28, at least 10 people were injured after the Haryana Police baton-charged farmers who blocked a highway while protesting against a BJP meeting, attended by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Soon after that, a video of Sinha surfaced of social media, where he was heard telling cops to "smash the heads" of protesting farmers if a certain barricade was breached.
After the controversy erupted, Sinha, then the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Karnal, was removed from the post and transferred. Opposition leaders in Haryana and across the country condemned the police action against farmers. Meanwhile, there were strict restrictions in Karnal over the last week. Large gatherings and mobile internet services were suspended to check the farmers' protest.
CM Khattar had said that Sinha's remarks were not right. "Although the officer's choice of words was not correct, strictness had to be maintained to ensure law and order situation." Recently, the state's Home Minister Anil Vij said the entire Karnal episode would be probed. "Not just Ayush Sinha...If farmer leaders are found guilty, we will also take action against them."