A meeting between farmer leaders and Haryana government officials today, the third time in four days, ended on a positive note with hints emerging of a possible end to the Karnal protest over the August 28 lathicharge against their comrades.
Protesting farmers heading last week for Karnal, where senior BJP leaders had scheduled a meeting, faced police action, leaving at least 10 injured. Such use of force sparked a furore, especially from top non-BJP leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Today, after what is being referred to as four hours of "positive talks", the two sides decided to meet again tomorrow at 9am for the "final touch", according to one of the persons who took part in the talks on behalf of the farmers.
Senior administrative officials, including Additional Chief Secretary Devender Singh, the Karnal District Collector, and Superintendent of Police, met farmer leaders like Gurnam Singh Charuni at the Karnal district secretariat.
Farmer leaders emerging from the talks looked optimistic. They believe the government has softened its stand and termed the talks "positive". All their demands were discussed with the the administration's representatives, they said.
Tonight, they will inform the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmers, about the day's discussions.
It is hoped that tomorrow's session will end the stalemate.
For the past many days, the farmers had pitched tents outside the government offices in Karnal as several rounds of talks failed.
The farmer leaders had demanded the suspension of Ayush Sinha, "the murderous official being protected and promoted by Haryana government". The IAS officer was caught on video telling cops to "break (farmers') heads".
He was transferred, but the government refused to suspend him.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar further infuriated the farmers by defending Mr Sinha's comments.
The Haryana administration had, meanwhile, imposed prohibitory orders banning large gatherings a few days ago. Besides the deployment of a large number of security personnel, the government had also suspended mobile phone internet and SMS services in several districts.
Farmer groups like the Bharatiya Kisan Union and Samyukt Kisan Morcha have been leading a massive protest nationwide for the past several months over three central agricultural laws.
While the Centre has held on to the view that these laws will be beneficial, the farmers, especially those from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, have refused to accept them. Multiple rounds of talks later, a deadlock has prevailed for months.