Press Trust of india

Haryana Police use tear gas on farmers at Shambhu border; talks with Centre again on Sunday

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Chandigarh:  Haryana Police on Friday fired tear gas shells to disperse protesting farmers when they moved towards the barricades at the Shambhu border near Ambala, a day after talks between Union ministers and farmer leaders remained inconclusive.

The fresh confrontation comes on the fourth day of the farmers’ ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, to press the government to accept their demands, including a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops.

Amid the impasse, the Union ministers and farmer leaders will meet on February 18 for the fourth round of talks. The two sides met on February 8, 12 and 15 as well but those talks remained inconclusive.

The farmers from Punjab began their march to the national capital on Tuesday but were stopped by security personnel at Shambhu and Khanauri points on Punjab’s border with Haryana. The protesters have stayed put at the two border points since then.

On the fourth day of the protest, a 63-year-old farmer, who was among the protesters at the Shambhu border, died of a heart attack on Friday.

According to officials, Gian Singh, who hailed from Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, complained of chest pain in the morning and was taken to the Civil Hospital in Punjab’s Rajpura. From there, he was rushed to Rajindra Hospital in Patiala, where doctors declared him brought dead.

Besides a legal guarantee of MSP, the farmers are demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.

Union Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Minister Arjun Munda, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai represented the Centre at Thursday’s meeting. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema also joined the meeting.

After the five-hour-long talks, Munda said, “We will find a solution by sitting together.”

Mann said he raised with the Centre the issue of suspension of internet services in certain areas in Sangrur, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib, and that of Haryana security personnel using a drone to drop tear gas shells on protesters inside Punjab’s territory.

Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said a detailed discussion was held on their demands, including a legal guarantee for MSP and a debt waiver. “They (Union ministers) said they need time,” he said.

“We want that there should be a positive result and any confrontation should be avoided. Otherwise, our programme to go to Delhi stands.” Responding to a question on whether farmers will stay put at the Punjab-Haryana borders, Pandher said, “Yes”.

Pandher said they also raised the issue of tear gas shelling by the paramilitary forces on farmers at the Shambhu and Khanuri borders. He said they showed the shells to the ministers during the meeting.

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