22 Feb 2024

Farmers Protest: Ban on Internet extended; Samyukt Kisan Morcha holds Centre responsible for farmer's death; compensation demanded

Amid a standoff with the farmers, the Haryana government on Wednesday extended the ban on mobile internet and bulk SMS services in seven districts till February 23.

Earlier, the government extended the suspension till February 19.

According to a notification issued by the Haryana administration, bulk SMS and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except voice calls, will remain suspended in the jurisdiction of districts Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa.

Modi govt responsible: SKM

Meanwhile, expressing grief over the death of a young farmer during the clash between security forces and protesters on Wednesday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha has alleged that 'only the Modi government is responsible for the current crisis and the death of a person.'

The farmers' organization has called a meeting of its National Coordination Committee on February 22 to discuss the situation and "formulate a decisive policy to take the protest forward".

The 21-year-old youth killed during the farmers' protest on Wednesday has been identified as Shubhakaran Singh. Shubhakaran Singh was a resident of Balok village of Bathinda district.

He died and some other people were also injured in a clash between protesting farmers and security forces at the Khanauri border between Punjab and Haryana.

Farmers organization SKM said in its statement - “We strongly protest against the brutal repression and firing by the police on the Haryana-Punjab border, killing of farmer Shubhakaran Singh of Balok village of Bathinda district.”

Samyukt Kisan Morcha said, “According to reports, about 15 people have been seriously injured in the repression by security forces. This is a brutal attack on the breadwinners of farmer families, who were protesting to ensure that the promises made by the Prime Minister were fulfilled."

“The Prime Minister and his ministers, who have failed to implement the agreement signed with SKM on December 9, 2021, are completely responsible for the current crisis and the death of the farmer,” the statement said. 

After this confrontation, farmers have stopped the 'Delhi Chalo March' for two days.

Farmers leaders demand compensation

Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said, "The Modi government at the Center should note that this morcha (protest) is not going to stop. We will take stock of the entire Khanauri incident and clarify the next strategy in two days. There will be a ban on the Delhi march for two days. After that we will take a decision." 

The farmer leaders assert that Shubhkaram Singh succumbed to a gunshot wound to the head fired by security forces, resulting in his death. Shubhkaran Singh, who owned merely three acres of land, had traveled to Khanauri on the Punjab-Haryana border to participate in the ongoing farmers' protest. He was the sole brother to two sisters. 

The unfortunate incident has been confirmed by Gurwinder Singh, Vice President of Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta Malwa Punjab. The Medical Superintendent of Rajindra Hospital in Patiala, H S Rekhi, informed reporters that three people, one of them deceased, were brought to the hospital from the Khanauri border point. Rekhi stated, "He (Singh) had an injury to his head," adding that the condition of the other two is stable.

Farm leaders are now urging the Punjab government to compensate the family members of the deceased and simultaneously waive off the family's outstanding debt. 

In contrast, Haryana Police emphasized that no farmer lost their life during Wednesday's protest. They released a statement on X, asserting, "According to the information received so far, no farmer has died today. This is just a rumour. There is information about two policemen and one protester being injured at Data Singh-Khanori border who is undergoing treatment."

Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) General Secretary Bikram Singh Majithia criticized Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for allegedly failing to safeguard the farmers. Despite four rounds of talks between farmer leaders and a team of Union Ministers, all discussions have remained inconclusive. Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda maintains that the government is open to further discussions with the protesting farmers.

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