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'Delhi Chalo' Protest Paused Until Feb 29 as Focus Turns to Seeking Justice for Shubhkaran's Death

The farmers' focus is on ensuring that those responsible for Shubhkaran's death are booked under murder charges.
A photo of the farmers' protest. Credit: Photo: Special Arrangement

Chandigarh: The ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest, currently halted at the Punjab-Haryana borders at Shambhu and Khanauri, has been further suspended until February 29. Farmer leaders have turned their focus to seeking justice for Shubhkaran Singh, a 22-year-old farmer, who was allegedly killed during clashes between farmers and Haryana police on February 21.

Late Friday evening (February 23), farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher shared this information with the media, saying that they would determine the next course of action on February 29. Currently, their focus is on ensuring that those responsible for Shubhkaran’s death are booked under murder charges.

As per a preliminary medical report, a suspected bullet injury killed Shubhkaran at Khanuari on Wednesday, soon after farmers resumed their ‘Delhi Chalo’ call following failed negotiations with the Union government over their demands.

This led to farmers suspending their protest for two days till Friday, and now, they have extended it for another six days as they alleged that the Punjab government was dragging its feet on fixing accountability on his death.

In order to help Shubhkaran’s family, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab announced Rs 1 crore compensation and a government job for the deceased’s sister. Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann announced this measure through a tweet on February 23.

Farmer leaders, however, rejected AAP government’s offer, saying they demand a first information report (FIR) to be registered against those guilty of Shubhkaran’s death. While speaking to The Wire, Shubh’s family also supported the farmers’ demand.

Farmers also did not allow his post-mortem and cremation until an FIR is registered, putting the government in a major fix.

Questioning the delay, farmer leader Pandher told the media that soon after Shubhkaran’s death, Punjab chief minister Mann had said that action would be taken against the culprits.

“But his own officials told us today that this can’t be done. This is unacceptable,” Pandher told the press at Rajindra Hospital in Patiala, where Shubhkaran’s dead body is kept in a mortuary.

He added that if proper action is not taken against those responsible for Shubhkaran’s death, there will be more such deaths in the course of the ongoing protest, which cannot be tolerated.

Political parties, too, have turned against AAP for delay in action on this matter.

Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, senior Akali Dal leaders Bikram Singh Majithia and Daljit Singh Cheema accused the chief minister of acting as a “tout” of the Haryana government as well as the Centre.

They claimed that his failure to register a case against Haryana police personnel when they attacked farmers in Punjab’s territory on February 13, the day they began the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest, resulted in Shubhkaran’s death.

They also claimed how the AAP government was presiding over the complete collapse of law and order in Punjab, adding “Bhagwant Mann is solely responsible for this as he is behaving like a tout and not as a chief minister.”

SKM observes ‘Black Day’

On Friday, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) observed a ‘Black Day’ and burnt effigies of BJP leaders in protest against the death of Shubhkaran and Haryana police’s action against the protesting farmers.

In a statement, SKM said that as part of their programme, effigies of Union home minister Amit Shah, Haryana chief minister M.L. Khattar, and state home minister Anil Vij were burnt at several places. The organisation also conducted torch light processions as part of their protest.

Following the incidents at Shambhu and Khanauri, similar clashes between farmers and police erupted in Hisar district of Haryana as protesters started advancing towards the Khanauri border to show solidarity with the farmers after the violent clashes on Wednesday.

Similar to the clashes at the Khanauri border, the police in Hisar also used tear gas shells to disperse the protesters and resorted to lathi charges.

The police allegedly deflated the tyres of the farmers’ tractors, while protesters reportedly damaged a police vehicle, escalating tension in the area. Subsequently, several farmers were also detained.

Farmer leader Jagjit Dallewal informed that protesting farmers at Khanauri and Shambhu would pay homage to Shubhkaran and others who have died so far in the ongoing farmers’ protest.

He said that the total casualties during the protest have increased to four, after one more farmer, Darshan Singh, 62, from Amarpura village in Bathinda district died at the Khanauri border late last night of a heart attack.

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