Scores of people, most of them farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws, on Sunday ransacked a venue at Kaimla village in Haryana’s Karnal where Chief Minister Manohar Lal was scheduled to address a farmers’ gathering (“ kisan mahapanchayat ”).
The Chief Minister condemned the incident and said that “farmers don’t have a violent temperament”, and the incident was the work “forces that have vested interests and are using farmers”.
The event was called off after several agitating farmers armed with sticks reached the venue, breaking through several layers of barricading. They ransacked the event site by smashing the chairs and the stage, tearing posters, etc. The CM’s programme was about highlighting the advantages of the new farm laws. Karnal is Mr. Lal’s home Assembly constituency.
Ahead of the CM’s event, police resorted to use of tear gas and water cannon to disperse agitating farmers at Kaimla village after the latter attempted to forcefully break barricades. Hundreds of agitating farmers waving black flags against the Centre’s agriculture sector laws were stopped by the police, which had erected barricades at all entry points to the village. The protesters, however, marched and reached the venue and vandalised the event site.
“There was no clash with farmers. To maintain the law-and-order situation, we had to use water cannons and tear gas after the agitators broke the barricades that were erected on roads leading to the event site,” Ganga Ram Punia, Superintendent of Police, Karnal, told The Hindu.
“So far, no case has been registered against anyone,” he said.
Mr. Lal, condemning the episode, said the incident took place at the behest of people who were trying to use farmers for their vested interests. “A video of Gurnam Singh Chaduni (president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union) had been circulating in which he could be heard instigating farmers against today’s event and they stand exposed now. Such people are defaming farmers. Farmers don’t have such nature or temperament,” said Mr. Lal, addressing a press conference here.
“Such kind of hooliganism is not acceptable in a civilised society and no one will accept it. In democracy, everyone has right to speak their mind but there’s a decent way. I would ask the Opposition parties, be it the Congress or the Communist Party, that they should not remain in any misconception. They should believe in democracy, otherwise people will show them the way out,” he added.
Mr. Lal said that the local administration [in Karnal] had spoken to the protesters, and the protesters had assured that they would only hold a symbolic peaceful protest in the village and would not resort to any agitation during the event. “There was no intelligence failure. The protesters didn’t keep their word, they betrayed. But let me tell you, there’s pure politics behind all this, and all those involved in this have been yet again exposed today,” he said.
Agitated farmers shouted slogans against the Centre and the State government, terming the new farm laws “anti-farmers”. Bharatiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) had on January 6 announced that it would oppose the kisan mahapanchayat.
Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said it was shameful that the government was stopping farmers. “When you are having a mahapanchayat, what is the point of stopping the farmers from coming there? Meaning is clear - you are not concerned with the farmers but only by the event. Remember, it will be impossible to leave your house without police. Withdraw black laws,” tweeted Mr. Surjewala.
Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja said that the Bharatiya Janata Party-Jannayak Janta Party government of Haryana had lost the trust of the people. “Assembly session should be convened immediately and the government should face a confidence motion,” she said.