- “Office bearers of the Punjab CM’s Office” leading protest: ML Khattar
- “Haryana farmers have stayed away from protests,” he said
- Mr Khattar said that Haryana Police had shown restraint during protests
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar hit out at his Punjab counterpart, Amarinder Singh, on Saturday afternoon, holding him responsible for the thousands of farmers marching to Delhi to protest against the centre’s farm laws. He also claimed that “office bearers of the Punjab Chief Minister’s Office” were leading the protest.
Mr Khattar then thanked Haryana Police – who have been criticised for resorting to lathi charges and tear gassing to beat back the farmers – for showing restraint.
“Punjab farmers are protesting. Haryana farmers have stayed away. I thank Haryana farmers and police for showing restraint. Punjab Chief Minister is fanning this protest. Office bearers of the Punjab Chief Minister’s Office are leading the protest,” Mr Khattar told reporters.
Mr Khattar, who sparred with Amarinder Singh on Twitter on Thursday, also repeated his claim that he had been trying to contact Mr Singh since the farmers’ march began, but had received no response.
Farmers from several states have been marching in waves to Delhi to mount a joint protest against the farm laws, only to be confronted by a Haryana police force that had been instructed to not let them pass.
Apart from lathi charges, water cannons and tear gassing, The cops also set up barricades wrapped in barbed wire to stop the farmers, and dug up roads to act as trenches.
On Thursday Amarinder Singh took to Twitter to urge Manohar Lal Khattar to let the farmers pass peacefully.
“Let them pass ML Khattar ji, don’t push them to the brink. Let them take their voice to Delhi peacefully,” he tweeted.
Mr Singh had earlier asked: “Why is the ML Khattar government in Haryana stopping the farmers from moving to Delhi? The tyrannical use of brute force against peacefully protesting farmers is totally undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
Mr Khattar responded: “I’ve been trying to reach out to you for the last 3 days but sadly you decided to stay unreachable – is this how serious you are for farmer’s issues? You’re only tweeting and running away from talks, Why?”
Undeterred by the use of force to stop them, thousands of farmers reached the Delhi border on Friday morning, where they were met with more police barriers and tear gas.
They came with tractors carrying food and essential supplies, and have said they will not return until the centre has repealed the laws.
They are protesting laws the centre says will reform the agricultural sector by removing middlemen and improving farmers’ earnings by allowing them to sell produce anywhere in the country.
Farmers and opposition parties allege that the laws will deprive the farmers of guaranteed minimum price for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporates.