Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday claimed that his government has “inputs” on presence of Khalistani separatists in the ongoing farmers’ agitation against recently passed agriculture laws, ANI reported. He, however, did not divulge any more details.
On being asked about the alleged involvement of separatists in the protests, Khattar said: “We have reports on some unwanted elements in the crowd. We will disclose the details once we get some solid evidence.”
He further claimed to have access to video and audio clips where protestors can be heard raising slogans like, “Jab Indira Gandhi ko ye kar sakte hain, to Modi ko kyu nahi kar sakte? [Why can’t we do this to Modi, if we have done it to Indira Gandhi?]”.
Khattar was referring to the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, by her Sikh bodyguards, in an aftermath of the Khalistan movement that demanded a separate state.
Khattar also said that farmers from Punjab, and not his state, were involved in the protest, reported NDTV. He also accused Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of instigating the protest.
“Punjab farmers are protesting, Haryana farmers have stayed away,” Khattar said. Punjab chief minister is fanning this protest. Office bearers of the Punjab chief minister’s office are leading the protest.”
Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Saturday reiterated that the government was ready for talks with the farmers and has invited them on December 3, reported ANI. He had said the same on Friday, urging farmers to call off their protest. He also accused Opposition parties of “politicising” the matter.
Earlier during the day, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shahnawaz Hussain claimed that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre has worked towards the interests of the farmers and expressed confidence that the matters would be resolved through talks.
Opposition leaders criticise government’s approach
On the other hand, many Opposition leaders have criticised the government for using force against the farmers to stop them from entering the national Capital.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi shared a photo of a security personnel attempting to baton-charge a protesting farmer, saying it was quite a “sad picture”.
“Our slogan was Jai Jawan Jai Kisan, but today PM Modi’s arrogance made the jawan stand against the farmer,” tweeted Gandhi. “This is very dangerous.”
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh lashed out at Khattar over his government’s use of force on the farmers. “Why is he stopping our farmers?” Singh asked, according to News18. “Why did he have to fire gas at them? I have spoken to PM Modi [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] and the agriculture minister [Narendra Singh Tomar] so why cant I speak to Khattar?”
Singh said that he will not answer even if Khattar calls him 10 times, according to NDTV. “I don’t like this dishonest behaviour,” he said.
The Punjab chief minister had also criticised Khattar’s government on Thursday, for using tear gas and water cannons on the farmers marching to Delhi. “It’s a sad irony that on Constitution Day 2020, the constitutional right of farmers is being oppressed in this manner,” he had said.
Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav also attacked the government on the matter while addressing a press conference on Saturday, ANI reported. “The level of injustice, lathicharge and the terrorising attack on farmers has never been seen before under any government’s rule,” he said.
Aam Aadmi Party’s Raghav Chadda said on Friday that the Delhi government is making all required arrangements for the farmers at the Burari ground, as per instructions from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Thousands of farmers had entered Delhi on Friday after the police gave them permission to agitate in the Burari area. The protestors had to brave tear gas and water canons on both Thursday and Friday as they pushed to enter Delhi.
The authorities had taken extraordinary measures to set up blockades on highways, parking buses, trucks and other large vehicles. At some places, they even dug up trenches to obstruct farmers, many of whom camped on highways for the night in biting cold. Dramatic scenes unfolded at the borders as the farmers threw barricades set up by the police into a river. They also clashed with the police on a bridge.
The farmers are protesting against the three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – that were passed in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.
Farmers and traders have also alleged that the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They fear that the laws will leave them at the mercy of corporate powers. The government has maintained that farm laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.