Haryana DGP defends use of water cannons on farmers marching to Delhi, says police handled situation 'with great restraint'

Haryana Police and Punjab farmers travelling towards Delhi in their tractors and trolleys as part of a protest against recent farm laws were locked in a confrontation on Thursday morning at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border

Press Trust of India November 26, 2020 23:38:46 IST
Haryana DGP defends use of water cannons on farmers marching to Delhi, says police handled situation 'with great restraint'

Punjab Farmers protested against the Centre's farm laws on Thursday. AP

Chandigarh: The Haryana Police acted with great restraint against Punjab-based farmers who broke barricades during their Delhi Chalo march to ensure law and order, DGP Manoj Yadava said on Thursday.

He said the farmers took an aggressive stand and tried to disturb law and order by pelting stones at police at many places. Some police personnel sustained injuries and police and private vehicles were damaged, Yadava added.

The Haryana Director General of Police said farmers were marching towards Delhi but police would try to stop them without resorting to force.

Farmers from Punjab faced water cannons and broke police barriers at the state's border with Haryana as they pushed towards the national capital in protest against the Centre's farm laws.

By late evening, a large number of protesters from Punjab and Haryana were close to Delhi, where too police were deployed in strength at border points. We handled the situation with great restraint ensuring law and order is maintained, Yadava told PTI.

When asked about water cannons being used at Shambhu and some other places, he said farmers who entered Haryana from Punjab broke police barricades at many points.

At the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border, police and Punjab farmers in their tractor-trolleys were locked in a confrontation for a couple of hours in the morning. Police made announcements on loudspeakers asking the farmers assembled on the Punjab side to disperse.

But as protesters tried to push through barricades, the Haryana Police used a water cannon and lobbed teargas shells. Farmers chucked some steel barricades into the Ghaggar river from the bridge where they had been stopped.

About the situation prevailing in the state in the wake of farmers' marching towards Delhi, the Haryana DGP said, "We are taking all necessary steps to ensure law and order is maintained. We are doing our duty."

He said by evening the farmers were near Panipat, about 100 kilometres away from Delhi. "We will try to stop and persuade them not to proceed ahead," Yadava said.

In a statement in the evening, the DGP said the Haryana Police has advised the citizens to avoid travelling at entry points from Haryana to Delhi on the National Highway No 10 (Hisar-Rohtak-Delhi) and the National Highway 44 (Ambala-Panipat-Delhi) as they may face inconvenience and trouble on these routes.

"Our field units today tried to prevent farmers coming from Punjab from entering Haryana in a restrained manner at the district border points. The police also tried to convince them by establishing barricades.

"But the agitating farmers not only damaged the police barricades, but proceeded by removing all the blockades and obstructions in an unlawful manner. Acting with restraint, police did not use force on the agitating farmers," he said.

The DGP said on the contrary, the farmers took an aggressive stand and tried to disturb the law and order by pelting stones at the police in many places.

In this entire episode, not only a number of police personnel were injured but police and private vehicles were also damaged, Yadava said.

He said the general public is facing a lot of inconvenience on the routes leading to Delhi, especially between Panipat-Karnal, Karnal-Kurukshetra and Kurukshetra-Ambala.

The police chief said some anti-social and mischievous elements are also working to damage public property under the guise of the farmers' agitation. Strict action will be taken against such people as per law, he added.

He also appealed to the farmers to withdraw their Delhi Chalo call in the interest of the state and the country. Yadava also urged the farmers to be vigilant against those who try to mislead them to grind their own axe.

Replying to a question, he said the permission for the protest march by a large number of farmers had been denied in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The entry by such a huge crowd also may lead to law and order issue in the national capital, the Haryana Police chief added.

The Delhi Police on Wednesday had said it has denied permission to farmer organisations which wanted to hold a protest in the national capital on November 26 and 27.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in several parts of Haryana to prevent the assembly of people. Punjab farmers, representing over 30 farm bodies, had announced they will go to Delhi through several routes.

The farmers are demanding the repeal of the new farm laws which deregulate the sale of agriculture produce. They say the laws will lead to the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system.

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