Khattar asks party workers to wield sticks, kicks up row

Khattar was purportedly seen asking the party workers to raise groups of farm volunteers who can “pick up sticks; he was also seen telling them that even if they spend a couple of months in jail, they will become leaders
The fresh row with the “sticks” remark of Khattar has come after an IAS officer posted as Karnal SDM was, in August, seen telling cops to hit the farmers on the head if they try to disrupt a Bharatiya Janata Party event. (HT File)
The fresh row with the “sticks” remark of Khattar has come after an IAS officer posted as Karnal SDM was, in August, seen telling cops to hit the farmers on the head if they try to disrupt a Bharatiya Janata Party event. (HT File)
Updated on Oct 04, 2021 03:02 AM IST
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By, Chandigarh

Stirring a controversy in the backdrop of ongoing farmers’ agitation, Haryana chief minister (CM) Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday asked the Bharatiya Janata Party’s kisan morcha workers to raise groups of kisan volunteers in northern and north-western districts who can “pick up sticks”.

The controversial remarks seen in a video, which went viral on social media platforms, are likely to create a storm. The reference was evidently aimed at the protesting farmers who have been chasing the ruling BJP-JJP leaders and disrupting their visits and events.

“We will have to encourage upcoming farmer groups... In every district, particularly the northern and north western districts, we will have to raise groups of 500-700 kisan volunteers... And then Sathe Shathyam Samacharet (tit-for-tat). Pick up sticks,” Khattar was purportedly seen telling the workers in the video who were heard laughing at his comments.

Responding to a remark by a person in the gathering (which was not audible), Khattar further told the gathering not to worry about jamanat (bail) after picking up the sticks. “If you spend a couple of months.... you will become a leader. You will learn much more than these meetings and become a tall leader. Your name will get etched in history,” he said in a reference to doing time in jail.

A government official said that the chief minister’s remarks were shown selectively in the viral video. “The video lacked perspective and is misleading. It was an internal meeting of the party workers. The CM told them to oppose wrong actions but by maintaining discipline. In fact, the CM told the party workers to maintain discipline and not to take law in their hands,” said an official.

Former BJP MLA Sukhwinder Sheoran, who was present at the BJP kisan morcha meeting at Khattar’s residence on Sunday, said that remarks regarding raising kisan volunteers were only aimed at countering the propaganda about the three central farm laws.

The remarks drew criticism from the opposition parties. Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala, in a tweet, said that rule of law cannot be maintained in the state if the CM himself speaks about inciting violence and breaking law and order. “The anti-farmer face of the BJP stands exposed. It’s time to get rid of this government,” Surjewala tweeted.

Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Kumari Selja said, “The remarks of the Haryana CM are shameful, highly improper and condemnable. Instead of helping farmers, the CM is making highly provocative statements. What will be the fate of the state when the CM will make such instigating remarks and advise people to pick up sticks… Will our people and farmers tolerate this?”

Former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar also tweeted: “In his ‘call to arms’ Sh @mlkhattar has not only bared the fangs but also the ‘true colours of BJP’. Hope Supreme Court is taking note.”

The fresh controversy with the “sticks” remark has come after an IAS officer posted as Karnal SDM was, in August, seen telling cops to hit the farmers on the head if they try to disrupt a BJP event. The remark and a police lathicharge at a toll plaza in Karnal fueled protests by farmers unions. The farmers relented after the government set up a commission of inquiry to probe the incident.

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