The tehsil town of Gharsana and the neighbouring Raola in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan is currently site of clashes between the police and the farmers agitating for irrigation water. The farmers, and their leaders who led the agitation under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Vyapari Sangarsh Samiti, were either nursing their injured or in hiding. About 20 injured have been admitted to the Gharsana hospital and the district hospital in Sriganganagar. The authorities said curfew was clamped in Raola as a precautionary measure as in the previous agitation by the farmers on the same issue in October-November 2004 both Raola and Gharsana had witnessed serious violence.
Earlier in in October 2004, defying prohibitory orders, hundreds of farmers gheraoed the SDM’s office at Gharsana town in Sriganganagar district, reviving their agitation for irrigation water after the October 27, police firing which claimed five lives. With a view to appeasing the agitating farmers, the Vasundhara Raje Government ordered the removed of the Divisional Commissioner of the region, Mr Ramavtar Raghuvanshi, and Superintendent of Police, Mr Sunil Dutt, while two officers of the Rajasthan Administrative Service, Mr Indra Singh Rao and Mr Hitesh Kumar, have been placed under suspension. The farmers’ agitation led the Government to impose curfew in July 2005 also.
Farmers of Gharsana, at Ganganagar in Rajasthan, are on path of confrontation with the BJP government for the release of water from Pong Dam to the Phase I areas of Indira Gandhi Canal, the lifeline of farmers in the Gharsana-Raola agriculture belt. At a juncture when India is importing wheat from other countries, the state government is dissuading farmers in the region from cultivating wheat during the rabi season. The farmers have been told to sow barley or mustard, rather than wheat, which is a water-intensive crop. The movement has gained momentum with the Kisan Mazdoor Vyapari Sangharsh Samiti, the committee of farmers, labourers and agro-traders of the region deciding to go ahead with sowing wheat. The strife over water has seen the peasants and the state administration clash often in the past three years. Seven farmers were killed and many were injured when police fired at protesters in 2004.