We need your support. Know More

'Being Treated as If We Are From Pakistan and Shambhu Barrier Is India-Pak Border'

Vivek Gupta
Feb 15, 2024
Most farmers admitted at the Rajpura government hospital have lacerated wounds which take a long time to heal. These were sustained after Haryana police and security forces fired pellets and tear gas on them.

Rajpura (near Shambhu Barrier, Punjab): Seventy-one-year-old Jaspal Singh lives near the India-Pakistan border in the Tarn Taran district of Punjab. “I have never seen brutality of the kind I have encountered at the Shambhu Barrier,” he says.

Jaspal has sustained a lacerated wound on his right leg and is undergoing treatment at the emergency ward of the government hospital in Rajpura town of Patiala district, where The Wire spoke to him.

Shambhu Barrier, where farmers have gathered as part of their ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest, only to be thwarted by security forces in Haryana, is not far from Rajpura. Farmers with multiple injuries have been admitted at the government hospital here ever since tension began at the Shambhu barrier on Tuesday, February 13.

Jaspal told The Wire that he was part of the protesting crowd standing nearly half a kilometre from heavily police guarded barrier. Suddenly, tear gas shell dropped by a drone hit him.

“I lost consciousness for few minutes. Then I was brought here for treatment,” he said. He added that he was part of the farmers’ protests in 2020 too. Even then, he said, police brutality was never so extreme.

“Is peaceful protest a crime now? Don’t we have the right to protest for our legitimate rights?” he asked.

The emergency ward at Rajpura government hospital. Photo: Vivek Gupta/The Wire

Gurdaspur resident Ranjit Singh, 24, who has been admitted today morning, told The Wire that the government is acting in a manner that can only be called extreme.

Showing multiple abrasions on his body, he said he was hit by over 50 gun pellets.

He further said, “We are being treated as if we are from Pakistan and as if the Shambhu Barrier is the India-Pak border.”

The barbed wires used to prevent peaceful protesters from moving towards Delhi are so sharp that a single touch would be enough to injure a person, Ranjit said.

He also claimed that the government was even using expired tear gas shells to inflict maximum injuries on them.

“But we will not back down and are determined to reach Delhi to get the government to listen to our unfulfilled demands,” he said.

Manminder Singh, a farmer from Narru village near Rajpura and was also hit by tear gas shell. He aid police brutality on their peaceful protest indicated the presence of an autocratic regime, which cannot tolerate their right to peaceful protest.

Manminder Singh at the Rajpura hospital. Photo: Vivek Gupta/The Wire

Showing a deep cut on his leg, he said that despite 14-15 stitches, a wound was still open.

“We have not seen such a level of oppression on peaceful protesters,” said another injured man, Bikramjeet Singh. Bikramjeet is 31 and from Tarn Taran.

He was hit by a tear gas shell and is under treatment at the hospital.

Condemning the police action, he said the government has shown that it has no concern of farmers. “The government thinks that by dolling out few subsidies, poor people are being served. But this is not development. We want rightful remuneration of our crops and this can’t be achieved unless we get law which guarantees it,” he added.

Also read: As Over 100 Injured, Samyukt Kisan Morcha to Protest Against Attacks on Farmers

He asked if policies can be formed to benefit big corporates, then millions of poor farmers can be thought of too.

So far, 60 patients have been admitted at the Rajpura government hospital, said hospital in-charge, Dr Bidhi Chand. He told The Wire that while 39 patients were discharged, the rest are under treatment.

Bikramjeet Singh from Tarn Taran at the Rajpura hospital. Photo: Vivek Gupta/The Wire

Four patients have been referred to the Rajindra hospital in Patiala since they have serious head and eye injuries, he added.

In most cases, the nature of injury is lacerated wounds, which take a lot of time to heal. Few were admitted with fractures too.

Chand said due care was being given to all injured. “Our one team of doctors is also stationed at Shambhu Barrier for first-aid treatment, he said.

The Wire also spoke to the Civil Surgeon in Patiala district, Raminder Jeet, who said that 20 injured farmers also came from Khanauri Barrier – another entry point to Haryana from the Patiala side, where a scene of similar clashes between farmers and security forces is being seen.

She said health personnel are on high alert both at clashing points as well as in government hospitals.

Meanwhile, politicians from ruling as well as opposition parties have been meeting the injured.

On February 14, senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Professor Prem Singh Chandumajra, who met injured farmers at government hospital at Rajpura said in a statement that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab had given a free rein to the Haryana police to fire at farmers in Punjab territory.

“Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann should explain why he had given this permission to the Haryana police in his role as home minister,” he said.

As per media reports, Haryana police have so far fired 4,500 tear gas shells, many using drones, at the Shambhu border to disperse protesting farmers.

The Punjab government wrote to its Haryana counterpart objecting to Haryana Police using drones in their territory and asking to refrain from it.

Make a contribution to Independent Journalism