Amarinder Singh, Manohar Lal Khattar spar over police action
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar engaged in a war of words on Thursday over Haryana’s attempt to stop thousands of farmers from entering the national Capital to stage a demonstration against three contentious laws enacted recently by Parliament to liberalise the farm sector.
While Singh termed the Haryana government’s move to stop the farmers from moving towards Delhi “totally undemocratic and unconstitutional”, Khattar accused the Punjab chief minister of “inciting” innocent farmers.
Punjab farmers, representing over 30 farm bodies, had announced they will go to Delhi through several routes, and will hold a dharna wherever they are stopped from moving towards the national Capital.
On Wednesday, Haryana completely sealed its borders with Punjab to prevent the farmers from entering the state for their protest march.
Tension spiralled at the Shambhu border in Haryana, around 215 km from Delhi, on Thursday as police used water cannons and teargas to disperse hundreds of farmers coming from Punjab who broke barricades, throwing some into a river, determined to enter Haryana as part of their march.
Condemning the move, Singh tweeted: “Why is @mlkhattar govt in Haryana stopping the farmers from moving to Delhi? The tyrannical use of brute force against peacefully protesting farmers is totally undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
The Punjab chief minister said it was a “sad irony” that the constitutional rights of farmers were being “oppressed” on the Constitution Day. “Let them pass @mlkhattar ji, don’t push them to the brink. Let them take their voice to Delhi peacefully,” Singh, a senior Congress leader, said.
Shortly after, Khattar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asked Singh to desist from “misleading” farmers, highlighting that he has already pledged to quit politics if the Minimum Support Price mechanism is ever dismantled.
“@Capt Amarinder Ji, I’ve said it earlier and I’m saying it again, I’ll leave politics if there’ll be any trouble on the MSP -- therefore, please stop inciting innocent farmers,” Khattar tweeted. He also accused Singh of “only tweeting” and “running away from talks” with him on the issue. “I’ve been trying to reach out to you for the last 3 days but, sadly, you have decided to stay unreachable -- is this how serious you are for farmers’ issues? You’re only tweeting and running away from talks, why,” Khattar asked in another tweet.
Congress leader Singh expressed shock at his response. “Shocked at your response @mlkhattar ji. It’s the farmers who’ve to be convinced on MSP, not me. You should’ve tried to talk to them before their #DilliChalo. And if you think I’m inciting farmers then why are Haryana farmers also marching to Delhi,” he asked.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, a former ally the BJP, too criticised attempts to thwart the protest. “Today is Punjab’s 26/11. We are witnessing the end of the right to democratic protest,” he tweeted.
Former Union minister and SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who had resigned from the Union Cabinet in September in protest against the three laws, she said: “Using force against farmers on Constitution Day has turned the day a ‘black day’ for ‘annadattas’ of the country.”
Condemning the police action, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “The nation’s farmers are standing firmly against the cruelty of the Modi government.”
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “What @narendramodi ji’s wonderfully pro-people government has ensured? 700% increase in farmer protests, Draconian anti-farmer bill, Atrocities on the farmers.’’
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- The farmers accused the two of taking control of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha stage on Monday evening, and pushing farmers to march onto the Outer Ring Road rather than the route decided with the police.
- Even farmers, who were earlier excited about the tractor rally and spent the day glued to their phones and television sets, said the violence on the streets of Delhi and outside the Red Fort weakened the movement.
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