Karnal sub-divisional Magistrate Ayush Sinha, a 2018-batch IAS officer of the Haryana cadre, was caught on camera Saturday instructing policemen to beat up protesters and not to let anyone breach the security cordon without a “broken head”.
In a video clip that did the rounds of social media around the time police cracked down on farmers, Sinha is heard instructing a group of policemen: “Utha utha ke maarna peeche sabko (hit them hard)… We shall not allow this cordon to be breached. We have enough force available. We haven’t slept for the past two days. But you have come here after taking some sleep… Mere paas ek bhi banda nikal ke nahi aana chahiye. Agar aaye toh sar foota hua hona chahiye uska. Clear hai aapko (No one should break the cordon and reach me. If someone does, make sure he has a broken head. Hope this is clear).”
Mahindra Singh of Barauta village was among the many who were injured.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha later demanded Sinha’s suspension.
Officials of the state government did not wish to comment on Sinha’s remarks, and some tried to justify it saying “the officer did not say anything wrong and was just doing his duty at the time of such pressure”.
Sinha, posted as SDM in Karnal, was deployed as duty magistrate at the spot to maintain law and order near Hotel Prem Plaza, where state BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and state party president Om Prakash Dhankar, were meeting to discuss the party’s strategy for the coming panchayat polls.
— ANI (@ANI) August 28, 2021
Reached for comment, Sinha told The Sunday Express: “There were mainly three checkpoints between the protest site and the place where the meeting was taking place. I was posted at the third and final checkpost before the meeting spot. It means, if any element was to reach there, he would have already breached two nakas before it. The third naka was very close to the meeting venue. There was a high possibility that any breach of the third naka would have led to vandalisation, and also certain unscrupulous elements were part of these protesting groups. It could have been a security threat.”
“So, keeping these factors in mind, I was briefing the forces at my location. I was briefing them on the procedure, a checklist as per provisions under the CrPC. I told them that we would give them (protesters) warnings, followed by use of water cannons, announcement of tear gas firing and then lathicharge, if need be,” he said.
He claimed that the video that did the rounds was “doctored” because “only a selected portion about the lathi charge was made viral on social media platforms… only a selected portion of my briefing was leaked”.
“The lathicharge that took place was at Bastara toll plaza where another SDM, not I, was deployed. My location, the point where I was deputed, was 10-15 km from the spot where the actual lathicharge took place. Nothing happened at my naka. The police personnel, who were briefed by me, did not do anything. None of the protesters reached there and nothing happened at my naka,” Sinha said.
Sources said the Chief Minister’s office too had spoken to Sinha and had found his reply “satisfactory” for now.