India

Farmers protest: Manohar Lal Khattar talks about ‘tit for tat’ during BJP meet; draws Opposition ire


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 Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar talked about “tit for tat” during a meeting of the BJP’s Kisan Morcha in Chandigarh on Sunday when he told the gathering to form groups of 500 to 1,000 and be prepared to even go to jail, with the Opposition and farm unions alleging that he was asking the supporters of the saffron party to attack the farmers protesting against three agriculture laws of the Centre.

A video clip of Khattar’s comments went viral on the social media, with the Opposition and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farm unions spearheading the anti-farm law protests, alleging that he also told the supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to pick up sticks (“tha lo dande”) against the protesting farmers.

At the event, while apparently referring to the impact of the ongoing farmers’ agitation, Khattar said the problem is not much in south Haryana and it is limited to the northern and western districts of the state.

“Form groups of 500, 700, 1,000 farmers and make them volunteers. And then at every place, ‘sathe sathyam samacharet’. What does it mean — it means tit for tat (jaisa ko taisa). Do not worry when you remain there (in jail) for a month, three months or six months, you will become big leaders, your names will be etched in history,” he said.

Congress slams Khattar 

The Congress hit out at the Haryana Chief Minister over his remarks. “Your (Khattar’s) guru mantra asking BJP supporters to attack the agitating farmers with sticks, to go to jail and become leaders from there will never be successful. This call to spread anarchy at an open programme after taking oath of the Constitution is treason. Seems you also have the nod of Modi-Naddaji in this,” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted in Hindi.

“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,” he said.

Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Singh Chautala alleged that by speaking the “language of violence”, Khattar wanted to spread anarchy in the state. He said a “sedition case should be registered against the Chief Minister”. “Honb’le Governor should take action against the Chief Minister and dismiss him,” Chautala said in tweet.

SKM demands Khattar’s resignation 

The SKM also condemned the BJP leader’s remarks. “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 a murderous intent on its own citizens,” it said in a statement.

The SKM condemned Khattar’s “violent intent” and demanded his apology as well as resignation.

At the event, Khattar also said if a protest has to be suppressed, it can be done through one government order, but added that those protesting are also “our own people and not enemies”. Referring to the three contentious farm laws, he said if any lacunae remains even after their implementation, the legislations can always be amended. After all, there have been so many amendments to the Constitution, the Chief Minister said.

“Even today, amendments (in the farm laws) can be done. But in a democratic setup, the approach to remain adamant (on a repeal of the laws) is not right,” he said.

The farmers agitating against the three laws have intensified their protests against the leaders of the ruling BJP-JJP combine in Haryana. They gather near the venues where functions of the leaders of the BJP or the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) are held and stage vociferous protests. The state government set up a Commission of Inquiry last month to probe an incident of police lathicharge at a group of protesting farmers. The then Karnal sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Ayush Sinha, a 2018-batch IAS officer, was caught on tape purportedly telling policemen to “break the heads” of the farmers if they “cross the line”.

READ MORE: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra detained en route to Lakhimpur Kheri 

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