A huge deployment of paramilitary troops was seen in Haryana’s Sirsa this morning ahead of a farmers’ protest today against the arrests in a sedition case. Five farmers were charged with sedition and arrested in early morning raids on Thursday for allegedly attacking BJP leader and Haryana Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Ranbir Gangwa on Sunday (July 11).
Sirsa, which is about 250 km from Delhi, is on high alert ahead of the meeting. Farmer leaders are demanding the release of those arrested. They are also planning to gherao (gather around) the office of Superintendent of Police.
The Bharat Kisan Union’s Rakesh Tikait is also likely to join the protest.
On Sunday, the BJP’s Ranbir Gangwa was allegedly attacked and his official vehicle was damaged during a protest against the contentious farm laws.
More than 100 farmers faced sedition charges; five of them were arrested on Thursday. This is believed to be the first time that the farmers – protesting against the controversial laws since late November – have been accused of sedition.
In a statement issued earlier this week, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (one of the protesting groups) slammed the charges, calling them “false, frivolous and cooked up” and vowing to contest them in court.
“SKM strongly condemns false, frivolous and cooked-up sedition charges, and indeed all other charges, against farmers and farmer leaders under instructions of the anti-farmer BJP government of Haryana,” it said.
The arrests come at a time when Supreme Court has questioned the relevance of sedition law, describing it as “colonial”.
“The sedition Law is a colonial law. Do we still need the law in our country after 75 years of Independence,” Chief Justice NV Ramana questioned earlier this week.
“The dispute is it is a colonial law… the very same law was used by the British to silence Mahatma Gandhi and to suppress the freedom movement. Is the law still necessary in the statute book in our country after 75 years of Independence?” the court had said.
In Haryana, the ruling BJP-Jannayak Janata Party alliance have faced multiple protests over the controversial farmers laws.