Congress protests over farm laws in Bhopal; cops use tear gas, water cannons

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BHOPAL, Jan 23 (PTI): Congress workers protesting against the three agri laws clashed with the police and allegedly hurled stones while on their way to gherao Raj Bhavan here on Saturday, prompting police to use water cannons, tear gas and canes to disperse them, officials said.

At least six police personnel and some people were injured in the incident, while 106 protesters were detained and released later, an officer said.

Hundreds of workers of the Congress led by Madhya Pradesh party unit chief Kamal Nath took part in the protest.

The clash occurred at the barricaded GTB area close to Roshanpur square.

TT Nagar area City Superintendent of Police (CSP) Umesh Tiwari said that more than half a dozen people including six policemen were injured.

“A man sustained injury to his head. He wasn’t a protester,” he added.

“Police first used water cannons, then fired tear gas shells. The protesters threw stones, broke down barricades and attacked police personnel, prompting the police to resort to mild lathi charge,” Tiwari said.

The CSP denied that police used force to suppress the protest.

Addressing protesters at Jawahar Chowk before the clash, Nath said the three new farm laws enacted by the Central government were completely anti-farmer.

“The three laws would benefit only capitalists while the farmers would become slaves and bonded labourers of industrialists,” he said.

Alleging that small and marginalised farmers have been ignored while making these laws, Nath said mandis (agri markets) and Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime will come to end if these legislations are implemented.

Farming would become a contractual affair, he added.

“The Central government should immediately repeal the three laws by accepting the farmers’ demand,” the former chief minister said.

He said the Congress will continue to support the agitating farmers till the government accepts their demands.

Later, Nath took to twitter to blast the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government over the police “brutality”.

“I strongly condemn the barbaric cane charge, use of tear gas and water on thousands of farmers and Congressmen protesting peacefully (sic),” Nath tweeted.

“In the lathi charge, farmers, Congressmen, women and mediapersons have been injured. I wish them speedy recovery. Our support to farmers would continue. We are not going to be bogged down with such suppression,” Nath added.

According to the Madhya Pradesh Congress, the protests launched by the party in the state since January 7 on the issue of farm laws culminated on Saturday with the “massive protest” held at Bhopal.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several border points of Delhi since November 28 last year, demanding a repeal of the three farm laws.

Multiple rounds of talks between the government and farmer unions have failed to break the impasse so far, while the Supreme Court has appointed a panel for resolution.

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