A farmer can be less educated and simple but he is sensible, said Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday as he accused ‘Congress and Communist parties’ of playing a major role in instigating farmers. The CM’s statement came hours after protesting crop growers vandalised the venue of a ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ programme at Kaimla village in Karnal where he was to address people to highlight the benefits of the Centre’s three agriculture laws.
“Today’s incident gave a message to people, bigger than what I’d intended to give. These people have defamed the farmers because a farmer doesn’t have such a nature. A farmer can be less educated or simple but he’s sensible. I think Congress and Communist parties have a major role behind these agitations. They are getting exposed,” Khattar said.
The Haryana Police used water cannons and lobbed teargas shells to prevent the farmers from marching towards the village. The farmers, however, reached the venue and damaged the makeshift helipad where Khattar’s chopper was to land despite elaborate security arrangements made by the police. They later took control of the helipad and squatted on it. Some protesters also uprooted the tiles of the helipad.
The farmers disrupted the kisan mahapanchayat’ programme by damaging the stage and breaking chairs, tables and flower pots at the venue. In the melee, stones were also pelted as police personnel ran for cover.
Angry farmers, mainly comprising youths, damaged the stage, tent and speakers at the venue. They also tore BJP hoardings and uprooted banners in the presence of policemen. Under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Charuni), farmers, who have been demanding that the laws be repealed, had earlier announced to oppose the ‘kisan mahapanchayat’.
Haryana ministers Kanwar Pal Gujjar, Krishan Lal Panwar, Karnal MP Sanjay Bhatia and Gharaunda MLA Harvinder Kalyan were part of the programme before the agitating farmers took control of the venue. The programme was cancelled due to an unruly act by farmers at the behest of BKU leader Gurnam Singh Charuni, BJP leader Raman Mallik said.
Police had made elaborate security arrangements for the chief minister’s visit to the village where he was to speak to people to highlight the benefits of the new farm laws. Director General of Police (Crime) Muhammad Akil was also present at the spot.
The protesting farmers earlier carried black flags and shouted slogans against the BJP-led government as they attempted to march towards Kaimla village. Police had put up barricades at the entry points of the village to prevent the protesters from reaching the programme venue.
However, the farmers crossed the barricade put up at Gharaunda on the Kaimla road. The police had also parked several trucks carrying sand at one of the roads to prevent the farmers from entering Kaimla village.
Karnal Superintendent of Police Ganga Ram Punia also tried to pacify the agitators, but in vain. All the farmers are here to whom the CM sahib’ intends to explain the farm laws. We will not allow the government to hold this programme, a protestor said.
The farmers lambasted the Khattar-led dispensation in the state, saying it was holding a programme on the central farm laws at this point of time when farmers across the country have been protesting against the same. The government is trying to rub salt into our wounds with this kisan mahapanchayat’ programme, another protester added.
Some local villagers and BJP workers also had a face-off with the protesters after the latter reached the venue. The policemen, who tried to pacify the agitating farmers, had also used mild cane charge to disperse them.
Reacting to the incident, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the government should avoid confrontation with the protesting farmers. “Farmers have certain apprehensions over the new farm Acts, the government should rather repeal these Acts as desired by the peasantry and avoid confrontation with them by holding functions like the mahapanchayat,” he said.
The former CM reiterated his demand of convening an emergent session of the state assembly. “This government has lost the faith of its legislators and people. The Congress wants to bring a no confidence motion against the Khattar government,” he said.
Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja said the mahapanchayat convened by Khattar did not get support from the people. “The government had lost trust of the people,” she said.
AICC general secretary Randeep singh Surjewala said the proposed mahapanchayat was a “government sponsored” event which has been shown “its true picture” by the protesters. Meanwhile, a purported video of Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh Charuni making an appeal to end the arrogance of the CM by not allowing him to address the mahapanchayat circulated on social media.
Notably, on January 6, the BKU (Charuni) had threatened that they would oppose the ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ programme. Besides addressing the programme, the Haryana CM was also supposed to announce development works worth Rs 47 crore for Karnal.
(With PTI inputs)
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