Farmers during their protest march against the central government's three farm reform laws, in Karnal, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (PTI)
Karnal: A large number of farmers stayed put outside the gates of the district headquarters here on Wednesday as they remained firm on their demand for action over a police lathicharge on a group of peasants on August 28.
Locked in a showdown with the Haryana government, the farmers squatted at the gates of the mini-secretariat on Tuesday evening after talks with the local administration failed. Many spent the night outside the mini-secretariat.
The protesters' main demand centres around IAS officer Ayush Sinha, the former sub-divisional magistrate of Karnal. He was transferred out as part of a larger bureaucratic shuffle.
The officer, whose suspension farmers' union leaders are demanding, was caught on tape allegedly telling policemen to "break heads" if the protesters crossed the line.
About 10 protesters were hurt in the clash with police as they tried to march towards the venue of a BJP meeting. Their leaders also claimed that a farmer died later, an allegation rejected by the administration.
A number of farmers along with many leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) spent the night outside the main entrance of the mini-secretariat.
In the morning, volunteers at the protest site were seen preparing tea and serving breakfast.
"We are not going anywhere from here until our demands are met," Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni told reporters on Wednesday.
On the demand for Sinha's suspension, he said, "First, we are saying transferring him is not a punishment. We are also saying when farmers are booked for even road blockade, why not take action against the officer who ordered (police) to break heads. Is there any law under which such an order can be given?"
The movement of traffic on the Delhi-Karnal-Ambala NH-44 remained normal.
Security had been beefed up here on Monday, a day before farmers' mahapanchayat, and central forces deployed.
The gherao began on Tuesday evening, several hours after farmers from Haryana and neighbouring states reached Karnal's New Anaj Mandi for the mahapanchayat, riding tractors and motorcycles.
They marched on foot from the mahapanchayat venue to the mini-secretariat about five km away.
Protest leaders Rakesh Tikait and Yogendra Yadav are also at the gherao site.
Karnal Deputy Commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav had on Tuesday said that the administration had invited the farm leaders for another round of talks and that it was hopeful of resolving the issue.
The Home Department has extended the suspension of mobile internet services in Karnal until Wednesday midnight as the situation is "still volatile".
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) banning gathering of people have been imposed in the district.