Updated: September 14, 2021 9:53:34 pm
Just six days before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a petition regarding the ongoing farmers’ blockade of NH-44, the Haryana government on Tuesday initiated talks with the farmers. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar will chair a meeting on the issue on Wednesday, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said, even as he, in the same breath, added that the ongoing stir was nothing but ‘ghadar‘ (mutiny) which is being kept alive by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
The Sonipat district administration on Tuesday held a meeting with a section of farmer union leaders and urged them to vacate the portion of NH-44 on the Singhu-Kundli border.
Citing the writ petition regarding the protesting farmers on NH-44 and the Supreme Court’s August 23 order, Sonipat deputy commissioner urged the farmer union leaders to either shift to one side of the highway or move to another alternate site.
The petition regarding the blockade by the farmers will be heard in the Supreme Court on September 20.
On August 23, the apex court had said, “We impressed upon the learned Solicitor General that the solution lies in the hands of Union of India and the concerned state governments and they must coordinate to ensure that if the protests are on, at least the inter-state roads and national highways are not blocked in any manner whatsoever so that to and from on those roads does not cause great inconvenience to the other persons who use these roads.”
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Tuesday said, “A high-level meeting on the issue of clearing the NH-44 will be chaired by CM Khattar on Wednesday. We are also informing the (NHRC) about the actual situation. We have also filed an affidavit in the SC in this regard.”
Sonipat Deputy Commissioner Lalit Siwach said, “A meeting was held with the farmer union leaders on Tuesday. Officers of the district administration and police were also present. The protesting farmers were informed about the writ petition filed by Monicca Agarwaal. The Supreme Court had on August 23 ordered that the farmers protesting on the Kundli-Singhu border on NH-44 should shift to one side of the road. It is now expected that they will comply with the directives laid down by the Supreme Court.”
He added, “Construction work on NH-44 under the National Highways Authority of India has been also blocked for a long time due to the farmers’ protest. This is causing inconvenience to the people. If the farmers shift and allow the construction work to be completed, then it will be of immense help to commuters.”
A press release issued by the state government read, “On the request of the Deputy Commissioner, the farmers’ representatives have assured to give a positive reply in this matter.”
Another press release, which was issued by the Sonipat district administration after the same meeting that was chaired by the Deputy Commissioner, stated, “…farmer union leaders who attended the meeting said that they would discuss the matter with the SKM leaders. A section of the farmer leaders also pointed out that the problem was that Delhi had blocked their entry on the national highway and have also raised a wall”.
A senior Haryana government officer said, “Farmers were hinting that if SKM leaders approve, they may shift base to the national capital. But this is only if the Delhi government allows them to enter and camp in areas under their jurisdiction.”
Vij, however, attacked Amarinder Singh on the matter, alleging that the Punjab CM was keeping the agitation alive to “fulfil his political ambitions”.
Vij added, “This can’t be called an agitation. You may call it ‘ghadar’ (mutiny), or some other word may be used for it…In an agitation, people don’t come carrying swords. They don’t hit with sticks and they don’t block roads. In an agitation, people sit on dharnas and hunger strikes.”
Reacting to Vij’s statement, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said, “It is not surprising that Vij refers to the farmers’ movement as ghadar. The same expression was used by the British colonial masters for India’s first struggle for independence in 1857. This government continues to view farmers through the same lens with which the colonial masters viewed Indians, calling them half-children or half-devils. It’s time they realised that we live in the 21st century.”
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