Chandigarh: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday said the protesting farmer unions should not remain adamant on repeal of the new central farm laws, adding that making it a precondition for talks with the government does not serve any purpose.
He also claimed that only a “handful of people” were opposing the farm laws and that “common farmers are happy”.
“Those spearheading the agitation are in reality not farmers. Real farmers have no objection with the farm laws, they are happy,” he said.
The chief minister further alleged that those opposing the farm laws are only doing so due to political reasons.
“Their Punjab team is doing so because polls are approaching there. But there are no polls due in our state. Here the agenda is to defame the government using political angle. And the Congress is also supporting them in this,” he said.
Khattar said the word “kisan” (farmer) is a sacred one, but some incidents like the alleged sexual exploitation of a woman from West Bengal at the Tikri border last month have “prompted people to raise questions”.
On Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s appeal to the protesting farmers to end their agitation and his invitation for talks, Khattar said, “The farmer unions are adamant on only one thing — repeal of the farm laws — without being able to pinpoint at any shortcomings of the laws.”
“It does not serve any purpose if they remain adamant on just one thing and making it a precondition for talks with the government,” he said at a press conference here.
“What I feel is that Kisan word is a very pious word. Everyone, including me, the government, common people, believe those leading this agitation have faith and respect towards farmers. But the sad part which has come out of this agitation is that some incidents have happened prompting people to raise questions,” he said in an apparent reference to the sexual exploitation incident at Tikri border.
The Haryana Police had last month launched a probe into allegations by the father of the victim woman, who died after showing COVID-like symptoms, at a hospital in Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar district, that she had been raped by two men she had accompanied to the farmers protest site at Tikri border.
The CM also referred to the death of a 42-year-old man whose family members alleged that he was set on fire by four people in Bahadurgarh.
According to the complaint lodged by the victim’s brother, the four men were part of the ongoing farmers agitation at the Tikri border near Delhi.
“There has been sexual assault, murder, and also disputes with local people about roads being blocked for which even panchayats have been held,” Khattar said.
He also referred to the alleged targeting of BJP-JJP leaders in the state over the farm laws.
“I condemn their undemocratic way of work. We are exercising restraint. And what are they (those spearheading the stir) saying that the ministers, MLAs, chief minister, deputy CM cannot go to attend public functions. After all those running the government, it is their responsibility to go among the people and listen to them,” he said.
“We have always exercised restraint as they (protesters) are our own people” we do not want confrontation. When they say some things, we tolerate it as they are our own people. But exceeding it beyond limit is not in anyone’s interest,” he added.