A group of farmers on Saturday allegedly beat up Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Arun Narang in Malout in Muktsar district of Punjab, reported PTI.
Narang was allegedly attacked by farmers protesting against the farm laws when the Abohar MLA along with local leaders reached Malout to address a press conference. The protestors allegedly surrounded the MLA and threw black ink on him, officials said.
The police then took the legislator to a shop to protect him. But when he emerged again, the protesters allegedly beat him up and tore his clothes, the police said, adding that Narang was escorted to a safer place after the incident. The BJP office was also ransacked, reported The Tribune.
A senior police officer also sustained minor injuries during the scuffle that lasted for nearly an hour. Muktsar Senior Superintendent of Police D Sudarvizhi told The Tribune that a case of attempt to murder was being registered on the complaint of the injured police official.
“No BJP leader has yet given a statement about today’s incident,” Sudarvizhi said. “We are registering a case on the statement of Superintendent of Police (Home) Gurmail Singh, who suffered injuries on his head, elbows and legs today, [and was] admitted to Malout civil hospital.”
In the evening, Narang spoke about the incident, calling it a murderous attack. “I have a hunch that the state government could be behind it,” the Abohar MLA alleged. “It needs a thorough investigation. I don’t trust [the] Punjab police now. I have undergone the medical examination; will take further action after consulting with my senior party leadership or whatever [PM Narendra] Modi ji will direct me.”
Narang said that one can understand the law and order situation in the state if an MLA cannot be protected by the government. “Those [who] attacked me were not the genuine farmers, they seem to be motivated by someone,” the MLA further alleged. “This is not a kisan aandolan [farmers’ movement], but goondaism. Today, it was me, tomorrow, it can be anyone else.”
The Congress, the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal also condemned the incident. “Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condemns attack on BJP MLA from Abohar, warns of strict action against anyone disturbing state’s peace,” Punjab Chief Minister’s Office tweeted. “CM also urges Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene for early resolution of farmers’ crisis to prevent further escalation of situation.”
BJP leaders met Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore and then staged a protest against the incident outside the chief minister’s residence, PTI reported. They shouted slogans against the Congress-led government.
“The voice of the BJP cannot be suppressed,” the saffron party’s Punjab unit chief Ashwani Sharma said. “We have never seen democracy being shamed this way. Does the opposition party have no right to put forth its views?”
BJP leader Tikshan Sood demanded the Punjab chief minister’s resignation. “BJP leaders are being targeted,” he said. “There is no sign of democracy in the state. We came here to tell him [Singh] that he is not capable of running the state and should resign.”
BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh targeted the Amarinder Singh-led government, claiming that the incident has “exposed the complete collapse of law and order in the state”.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal called the “violent attack” on Narang “deplorable”. He demanded an impartial inquiry to fix the responsibility for the “failure” of the police in protecting an elected representative.
Badal also appealed to everyone to exercise restraint to ensure that peace and communal harmony in the state was not disturbed. SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema called the incident “painful”. He said that everybody has a right to put forth their views in a democracy. “There is no place for violence in society,” Cheema said.
Darshan Pal, the leader of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, condemned the incident. Samyukta Kisan Morcha is an umbrella body of farmers’ union, spearheading the agitation against the agriculture laws. “Today, farmers protested against BJP MLA from Abohar,” Pal said. “Under adverse circumstances, it turned violent and the MLA was physically assaulted. It is a matter of regret that an elected representative was treated this way. We do not encourage such behaviour.”
Pal also said that the farmers’ union appeals to all those protesting to remain peaceful and disciplined.
This is not the first such incident targeting Narang. Protestors had gheraoed him at Tarmala village in the district in November last year. In a similar incident, farmers had gheraoed senior BJP leader and former state minister Surjit Jyani in Bathinda. A number of other BJP leaders, including state president Ashwani Sharma and former state president Vijay Sampla, have faced angry protestors earlier.
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. Farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime.