Attack on Haryana Dy Speaker’s car: Standoff continues on sedition charges, hundreds block NH-9 in Sirsa

The National Highway was blocked for two hours on Wednesday.

Hundreds of protesters fanned onto National Highway-9 (Dabwali-Delhi) and blocked it at three places in Sirsa on Wednesday as part of the protests launched by farmer outfits to build pressure on the administration to take back sedition charges that have been slapped against more than 100 protesting farmers. The National Highway was blocked for two hours on Wednesday.

The protesting farmers, who blocked the highway on Wednesday, termed the day’s action as just a “trailer”, possibly hinting to intensify the agitation further to demand the release of five men who have been nabbed by the police under sedition charges for allegedly hurling stones at the car of Haryana Assembly Deputy Speaker Ranbir Singh Gangwa.

On July 11, the farmers had staged a protest against Gangwa when he had gone to Sirsa to attend a meeting of the BJP district executive. A few stones were also allegedly hurled at Gangwa’s car that shattered the vehicle’s rear windscreen. The police had later booked around 100 farmers under the charge of sedition, attempt to murder, and conspiracy, among several other charges. The farmers have, since the beginning, distanced themselves from the stone-pelting incident and have claimed that “their political opponents might have planted their men at the protest site to defame their agitation”. Farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa has also been sitting on a fast unto death for the past four days to demand the withdrawal of sedition cases, with a team of doctors closely monitoring his health. Keeping in view the continued mobilisation of farmers to join the agitation, a heavy police force has been deployed in the town to maintain law and order.

On Wednesday too, Baldev Singh Sirsa, who is 79-year-old, urged the farmers, especially the youths, to keep the agitation peaceful. “I am not able to speak too much. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) or local committee of farmer leaders did not force me to sit on the fast unto death. I took that step on my own. My fast unto death will continue; either those arrested will come back here after their release or I will go to the cremation ground,” Baldev Singh told the local media. He also blamed the Central government for triggering the ongoing agitation by introducing the three contentious farm laws.

Meanwhile, the farmers from neighbouring areas continue to join the protesters at their daily dharna site — which has been going on for the past five days — in front of Sirsa’s Mini Secretariat.

On their part, the police have asked the farm leaders to opt for a legal course of action to get the arrested farmers released from judicial custody.

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