The Toll of The Lathi: The Police-Farmer Clash in Karnal

With the farmers’ protest crossing the mark of nine months, it has expanded and revived itself numerous times. The main question that arises is— what happens when the IT cells and media puppets, the propaganda and the hate speeches fail? The desperation and frustration of lathi works.

With the Jallianwala Bagh renovation being hotly discussed in the arena of politics, the Haryana police’s recent lathi charge on farmers protesting against a BJP meet at Bastara toll plaza, Karnal, is being compared to the ‘second Jallianwala Bagh’ across political discourse. Multiple people were injured on Saturday as the Haryana police lathi-charged the protesting farmers ‘trying’ to disrupt the BJP meet being attended by the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, state BJP president Om Prakash Dhankar and other leaders.

Around 12 farmers and 10 policemen have been injured in this clash. The police alleged the farmers of throwing stones and attacking them with sticks. The police resorted to lathi-charge after the farmers tried to disrupt traffic on NH-44 in protest against a state-level BJP meeting being held in the city. The ADGP of law and order, Navdeep Virk, released a video saying that the farmers had first attacked the police and hurled stones when the police tried to stop them at the toll plaza.

The police had to use mild force as four farmers and 10 police officials sustained injuries in the clash,

added Navdeep in the video.

With videos of ruthless lathis being hurled and civil servants commanding to ‘break the heads’ and protest, the masses need to think and ask: Was the force really mild? As per the police, Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which bans the assembly of five or more people, was imposed in the area making the farmers’ gathering ‘unlawful’.

According to the police, they made repeated announcements to the farmers to disperse but they were adamant about moving towards the venue of the BJP meeting. All roads leading to the venue were heavily barricaded.

On the other hand, farmers alleged they were lathi-charged despite any incitement. The farmers are more distant from the attitude of the government now.

The attitude of the state, as well as the central government, has been consistently against us, we are no anti-social elements we are just here to put forward our point for the entire benefit of the farmer community. If we are misguided, then why doesn’t the government guide us? Why don’t they directly communicate with us rather than sending lathis and water cannons? But, incidents like these, the blood flowing and the screeching cries, they won’t affect us now, but in the coming 3 years they won’t be forgotten either.

Under the condition of anonymity, a protesting farmer who was present during the Karnal Lathi charge spoke to DU Beat.

Why have other mainstream media channels- parading themselves as the crusaders of democracy- either ignored the totality of this incident or tried to play the act of balancing like in a quarter fish market? The obvious question here is that has the government now reached its breaking point? Do other tools of media, propaganda and hate not act as potent weapons to silence the anti-establishment sentiments, that now a lathi is needed to support them? Has the stillness now brewed a storm for the future?

Read Also: The Tale of Muzaffarnagar Kisan Mahapanchayat

Feature Image Credits: Manoj Dhaka/Hindustan Times.

Nirmanyu Chouhan

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*This article was originally published in our e-newspaper Volume 15 | Issue 5. Click here to read the entire newspaper!


Nirmanyu considers himself to be an idiot through his consistent love for his ‘smolu’ interests. With active tastes in Indian politics, history and rock & roll music, you can either find Nirmanyu sitting on a treetop or with flower braids on his hair.