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Farmers hold protest in Jammu over arrest of their leader, another man by Delhi Police

JAMMU: Farmers on Tuesday blocked the Jammu-Pathankot highway here for several hours in protest against the arrest of their leader and another man in connection with the Republic Day violence in Delhi, officials said.

The protesters, mostly Sikhs including the family members of the arrested men, blocked the highway near Digiana Ashram, alleging that the two are being falsely implicated in the case as they are leading the ongoing farmers' agitation in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, they dispersed after senior civil and police officers led by an additional deputy commissioner visited them and sought some time, the officials said.

Jammu and Kashmir United Kisan Front Chairman Mohinder Singh (45), a resident of Chatha area of Jammu city, and Mandeep Singh (23), a resident of Gole Gujral, Jammu, were arrested by Delhi Police on Monday night.

The Delhi Police said they were "active participants" and "key conspirators" in the violence at the historic Red Fort during the farmers'' tractor parade on January 26.

However, the protestors said they were "singled out and implicated" in the case because they worked for the welfare of farmers in Jammu and Kashmir.

"The government is misusing its power and anyone raising his or her voice against the government policies is being silenced through illegal ways," one of the participants, a farmer, said amid anti-government sloganeering.

He said the two arrested men are supporting the ongoing agitation against the new agri laws and had reached the national capital several hours after the violence broke out.

"They had gone to Delhi, which is the national capital of our nation, and not Pakistan. Holding protest is our democratic and constitutional right, but this government is working in a dictatorial manner and trying to silence the opponents into submission," the protestor said and threatened to intensify the agitation if both the arrested persons are not released immediately.

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