Farmers Protest: A Standoff with the Local Administration of Hisar
Hisar, a city in Haryana, nearly 150 km from the national capital, emerged as the new epicenter for farmers’ agitation over the farm laws following clashes between farmers and the local administration. On May 16, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar visited Hisar to inaugurate a temporary Covid-19 hospital. The agitating farmers decided to protest this visit, and with the turn of events, violent clashes broke out between the protesters and policemen. The clash left dozens of farmers, including women and around 20 policemen, injured.
Subsequently, farmers across the state blocked roads including highways expressing their anguish against the uncalled for “police lathicharge.” This led to agitators holding protests during the lockdown, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic, especially in rural areas, is at an all time high.
The farmers’ agitation initially started from Kurukshetra with support from districts such as Ambala, Yamunanagar and Karnal in 2020, had later taken centre stage in Jind district. After the latest incident, Hisar has become a hotspot.
After the May 16 incident, security was stepped up in Hisar as farmers planned to stage a protest, at the residence of a senior police officer, against the criminal cases filed in the name of more than 300 farmers who have been on protest against the center's new farm laws since last November. The charges included attempted murder, rioting, unlawful assembly, and spreading the coronavirus infection.
Anticipating a massive turnout of farmers during the farmers’ protest on May 24, the government had deployed a heavy police force apart from paramilitary personnel. According to media sources, more than 30 companies, or around 3,000 individual personnel, of the Rapid Action Force or RAF were called into the Hisar district.
But with an objective to resolve the standoff through dialogue, the local officers offered the farmers an invitation for a dialogue, stopping the farmers' march to the commissioner's office.
After the meeting, the administration agreed for withdrawal of the FIR lodged against 350 farmers preferably within a month and a contractual job to a family member of the deceased farmer. The farmer leaders requested the DC to make this announcement among the protesting farmers who were waiting for the outcome of the meeting for the past seven hours.
With this, the farmers’ protest marked six months, one of the longest civil agitations. However, the primary takeaway from the Hisar outcome is the need for transparency in communication between the protesters and government.