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Punjab and Haryana CMs spar over farm agitation, Karnal baton charge

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal on Monday exchanged sharp words on the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s farm laws and the recent baton charge in Haryana’s Karnal.

At a press conference here, Mr. Lal accused Capt. (retd) Amaridner Singh of instigating farmers. To a question on Capt. Amaridner’s statement asking him to apologise to farmers, Mr. Lal said, “In what authority he is asking me to resign or apologise? Who is he to ask me to apologise or resign? Rather, he should resign for instigating farmers. About 85% of those sitting on Delhi’s borders are from Punjab.”

Mr. Lal said those agitating and taking law and order in their hands are not farmers. They are politically motivated people.

“The Haryana farmers are happily working in their fields. Those from Punjab are actually sitting at Tikri and Singhu borders,” he said, adding that the Congress and the Communist party leaders were misleading innocent farmers and provoking them to create chaos in Karnal as well.

Positive dialogue

“A positive dialogue was held between the protesters and the district administration wherein they had given written consent that they would only protest in a symbolic manner and will not violate the law and order. However, it is unfortunate to see how at the behest of some politically motivated leaders, they had broken their promise. The protesting farmers and their provokers should understand that the government is still ready to hear them,” said the Chief Minister.

He said in a democracy everyone has the right to expression of speech. “However, if anyone takes law and orders in their hands, then certainly the police have a role to play,” he said.

To another question on the audio and video of an officer which went viral during the Karnal incident, the Chief Minister said the DGP is investigating the issue. He said the audio and video and the baton charge happened at different places.

The Punjab Chief Minister slammed his Haryana counterpart for defending the assault on peacefully protesting farmers by putting the onus of their agitation on Punjab, saying Mr. Lal’s remarks had completely exposed his government’s anti-farmer agenda.

“The farmers who were protesting against the BJP meeting in Karnal when the police rained ‘lathis’ on them belonged to Haryana and not Punjab,” said Capt. Singh.

Farmers’ wrath

Blaming the BJP squarely for the farmers’ wrath, Captain Amarinder said the crisis would not have assumed such grave proportions had the BJP, including the Haryana Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, heeded the farmers’ concerns and empathised with their pain.

He trashed Mr. Lal’s claim that the Haryana police used force only after the farmers disturbed the law and order, pointing out that the viral video of the SDM giving explicit instructions to the cops to bash up the farmers nailed the CM’s lies. “How did the SDM know that the farmers intended to resort to stone pelting etc, as claimed by Khattar?” asked the Punjab Chief Minister.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 9:40:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-and-haryana-cms-spar-over-farm-agitation-karnal-baton-charge/article36187736.ece

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