Haryana CM Khattar's ‘pick-up-sticks' comment against farmers irks Oppositions flak
The Haryana CM in a video was seen calling to take action against farmers.Author : A. Gayatri
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar spoke about “tit for tat" during a BJP’s Kisan Morcha meeting on Sunday where he was heard telling the gathering to form groups of 500 to 1,000, be prepared to go to jail and asking his party supporters to attack protesting farmers who are demanding withdrawal of the three farm laws.
The Opposition has accused the Khattar government of publicly advocating the use of force on the farmers protesting and apply the strong-arm strategy.
In the video going viral on social media, the Opposition and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), allegedly citing Khattar, told his BJP supporters to pick up sticks (“tha lo dande") against the protesting farmers. Pointing out the effects of the ongoing farmers' demonstration, Khattar in the event had said that the problem is more in northern and western districts of Haryana and not in the southern part.
“Do not worry…when you remain there (in jail) for a month, three months or six months, you will become a big leader, your names will be etched in history," he said.
However, the Chief Minister’s Office said the statement has been "spread after cutting it in half".
"If you watch this full video, you will understand what he said. During an internal meeting of BJP workers, the Chief Minister has talked about the workers being in discipline and strongly opposed to any wrongdoing. The Chief Minister said that work has to be done with zeal, keeping consciousness and discipline," read the statement in Hindi.
"There are some new farm groups which have emerged recently. We have to support them," Mr Khattar can be heard saying in the video.
"In North and west Haryana, farmers should raise armed groups... Raise volunteer groups of 500-700-1000 people and pick up sticks and then follow a 'tit for tat' policy... Don't bother about the consequences and if you go behind the bars for this then don't worry about getting bail. You will come out a big leader," he added.
A quick counter retort came from the Opposition.
A strong reaction came from Congress’s Randeep Surjewala: "Your guru mantra of instigating BJP supporters to attack the protesting farmers with sticks, go to jail and then make them leaders will never be successful. This call to spread anarchy at an open programme by taking the oath of the constitution is treason. It appears that Modi-Nadda ji are in agreement (with you).”
“If the chief minister of the state talks about spreading violence, breaking the society and destroying law and order, then the rule of law and the Constitution cannot run in the state. Today, the BJP’s anti-farmer conspiracy got busted. The time has come for showing the door to such an anarchic government," read his Hindi tweet.
Abhay Singh Chautala leader of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) accused Khattar of spreading anarchy in the state by using the “language of violence" and added a “sedition case should be registered against the chief minister".
In a tweet, Chautala urged the state Governor to take action against the Haryana CM.
The SKM also condemned the BJP leader’s comment. In a statement, the farmer’s body said, “In a completely unacceptable and objectionable development, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is heard in a video clip encouraging party volunteers to pick up lathis and attack farmers, even if this means ending up in jails for a few months. It is clear where officials like (IAS officer) Ayush Sinha get their impunity from. While the farmers’ movement has explicitly made peace and non-violence its values, it is clear that the government is acting with murderous intent on its citizens.”
The SKM has demanded an apology from the leader with his resignation.
Haryana police had last used force on the farmers on August 28, where 10 people were injured after the Haryana police lathi-charged farmers who had blocked a highway leading to Karnal where the Chief Minister was supposed to attend a BJP meeting.
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The consequences went on into the last month, with angry farmers demanding action against IAS officer Ayush Sinha, who was seen directing the police to "break the heads" of farmers.
The officer was defended by Khattar at a press conference saying that though his "choice of words was not correct, strictness had to be maintained to keep the law and order situation under control".
The Haryana government had also used batons, tear gas, water cannons and barricades last November on the farmers who marched to Delhi as a mark of their protest against the three farm laws.