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Administration offices in Karnal became the site of the big face-off between farmers and the police. Water cannons were used as farmers breached barricades, intending to gherao the mini-secretariat.
Videos from the spot show flag-waving, slogan-shouting, cheering farmers jumping over barricades. Soon the police and their water cannons take over.
"The gherao of mini-secretariat at Karnal has just started. It will be peaceful," Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav told reporters. He and several farmers leaders, including Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Rakesh Tikait, were detained earlier, he said.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of around 40 farmer unions, said the mini secretariat has been "gheraoed by tens of thousands of farmers".
Earlier, farmer leaders spoke to the administration demanding the suspension of Ayush Sinha, "the murderous official being protected and promoted by Haryana government," the SKM said. Ayush Sinha was caught on video telling cops to "break (farmers') heads".
The administration did not agree to this, and "continued with its defence of the official", read the SKM statement. Earlier talks between 11 farmer leaders and district officials – over permission for the march - failed.
The administration had imposed prohibitory orders banning large gatherings two days ago. A huge number of security personnel, including 40 companies of policemen, were deployed and cellphone internet and SMS services were suspended. Barricades were set up in five districts.
The farmers said that today's mahapanchayat and the protest march are "to seek justice" for Sushil Kajla - who they claim died of injuries sustained in the august 28 lathicharge. The police say he died of a cardiac arrest.
Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar infuriated farmers further last week defending the official's comments. He said "the choice of words was not correct (but) strictness had to be maintained". Ayush Sinha has been transferred to a different department.
Today's mahapanchayat and march comes days after Sunday's massive gathering in Muzaffarnagar, UP. They declared that they will oppose the BJP in the coming elections in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
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