After being forced to cancel an outreach programme on the new agricultural laws amid massive demonstrations, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday once again affirmed that the central government would not scrap the contentious legislations, reported The Indian Express.
“The government is not going to repeal these laws,” Khattar said during a press conference in Chandigarh. “It is certain. Even if state governments are to be exempted, there will only be amendments.”
The chief minister said he hoped that the ongoing discussions between farm leaders and the Centre would yield a resolution. “But I don’t think the government is going to withdraw these laws,” he added. “I am hopeful that discussions are going in the right direction, that is why the next date of meeting has been fixed.”
Khattar’s press conference took place hours after protesting farmers on Sunday took control and ransacked the venue of the “kisan mahapanchayat” programme at Kaimla village in Haryana’s Karnal district, where the chief minister was to address people to highlight the benefits of the three laws. The Haryana Police had used water cannons, batons, and teargas shells to prevent farmers from marching towards the village. However, the protestors eventually managed to reach the venue and disrupt the programme.
The chief minister alleged the violence was orchestrated by “certain unscrupulous elements” – namely the Opposition. He also accused state Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni of inciting people to disrupt law and order situation in the state.
“We have a strong democratic set-up in our country, the Constitution gives all these rights,” Khattar said. “Even amid Covid-19, we made adequate arrangements for their [farmers’] safety and security. But the violation of Constitutional provisions is unpardonable.”
He claimed the leaders of farmer unions were collaborating with Opposition parties to fool the farmers. “These people have defamed farmers, this cannot be the behaviour of farmers,” Khattar added. “Gurnam Singh Chadhuni’s video released two days ago, wherein he incited people, is responsible for today’s [Sunday] incident. I believe that the Congress party and the Communists have a major role to play in such incidents.”
Khattar renewed his appeal to farmers to end their agitation near Delhi borders that has persisted for over a month. “People are dying there in this weather...I would suggest that this protest should end immediately so that these farmers can go back home,” he said. “They are not our enemies. They are also our people. They are also of our state.”
Tens of thousands of farmers have been blocking the highways for over 40 days despite the coronavirus pandemic, rains and an ongoing cold wave.
After eight rounds of talks between the Centre and farmers’ unions, the two sides have reached an agreement on the decriminalisation of stubble burning and safeguarding electricity subsidies – two of the four matters of contention. However, the deadlock continues on the two main demands of farmers – repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee for minimum support price system. The next round of talks between the two sides is scheduled to be held on January 15.