Human Rights

Farmers Protest Police Atrocity

By Sikh Sangat News, Sep 17, 2006

The lesions on their body-parts are evidence of the police brutality inflicted in a remote corner of Mansa district on Sep 11. Last week, the farmers who bore the brunt of police ruthlessness in Raipur village marched into the state capital to rouse the government to their plight.

Thousands of farmers, estimated figure between 15,000 to 20,000, the biggest since the 1984 farmers' siege of the city, marched up to Matka Chowk in the afternoon to demonstrate and also make a point - that they are not willing to take the government indifference or police brutality lying down.

Various farmers' organization have threatened to stop rail traffic on September 25 if the government fails meet their demands.

Bogh Singh, his right arm bandaged to hold together the fingers broken during police onslaught, displayed the bruises inflicted on his person when he, along with scores of other farmers, was trying to save the land of a fellow farmer in Raipur village.

"The policemen came on horsebacks and chased us along the fields, raining lathis on us. They targeted our limbs and heads. Though the turbans saved our heads to an extent, most of us ended up with fractured arms and legs," said Bogh Singh. He alone suffered multiple lacerations to the back and legs, and broken fingers.

Nearly 26 farmers were hospitalized after the attack. Many sneaked out on Wednesday -- either to join the agitation or escape possible police torture.

During the Mansa incident, seen as a direct fall out of the growing indebtedness of farmers, the simmering tension between the farmers and the commission agents had come to a head when hundreds of farmers had opposed the take over of three acre land and were thrashed by the police.

Activists flee from hospital

Mansa: The spat between farmers and the police over possession of a piece of land took a curious turn when 26 farmer activists recuperating at the local civil hospital disappeared from the hospital premises without the knowledge of authorities or policemen. The activists were admitted to the hospital after they were injured in a police lathi charge at Tandian and Raipur villages.

Commenting on their disappearance, Farmers Union leaders said that they have run away to escape arrest and police highhandedness. However, the police chief, while denying any highhandedness on the part of the police, said the activists have fled just to avoid arrest. Hospital authorities are still in the dark about the disappearance of such a big group of patients.

Resolution passed to condemn Raipur incident

Chandigarh: At Raipur village in Mansa, the police had also resorted to firing in the air to push back farmers. Earlier, at Maur Mandi, farmers beat up commission agents who were trying to auction the land of a farmer who failed to return his debt money. The gathering was organized by nine farmers' organizations and were protesting the "forcible acquisition of agriculture land of three villages by the Trident Group."

Given the extent of "unregulated" indebtedness of farmers to commission agents and a spate of suicides, the farmers' organization are demanding introduction of indebtedness relief bill in the coming assemble session. However, the bill is unlikely to be tabled in the two-day session.

The farmers area also demanding that the "false cases" registered against several leaders who protested against forcible take over of land either by the government or commission agents, be rolled back and the acquisition policy where farmers are being "robbed off their source of livelihood" be abandoned. "When you take away our very source of livelihood, how do you even expect us to survive, let alone pay the loan amount," pointed out an agitated Amarjit Sigh. The government failure to pay Rs 20 out of the Rs 30-bonus on paddy promised in 2001, is also being projected as one of the sensitive issues.

On the occasion, the farmers also passed a resolution condemning the Raipur incident.

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