This is not the first time Khattar had to cancel a scheduled programme amid the ongoing protests against the Centre’s farm laws. On Sunday, he had to cancel his Kisan Mahapanchayat programme scheduled in his constituency Karnal, after farmers captured the venue in Kaimla village and demolished the stage.
Amid the protest at Delhi’s borders, his deputy Dushyant Chautala and almost all his Cabinet colleagues have lately been facing massive protests wherever and whenever they make public appearances.
Right from the beginning, the state government’s plans to diffuse the farmers’ protests have failed. Varying from attempts to block farmers from Punjab trying to cross Haryana’s boundaries, use of force to stop tractor rally, negating presence of Haryana farmers in the ongoing agitation, attempts to build SYL narrative by holding fasts, announcing sops for villages, blaming Opposition for orchestrating protests – nothing has worked in either BJP or JJP’s favour, so far. The resentment against both parties has been increasing with every passing day, and the protests continue to intensify.
Top leaders of Haryana BJP and its ally JJP, including ministers and MPs, have virtually been confined to their offices and homes and are avoiding making public appearances unless it is there own party event. Many of the leaders are not even allowed to enter villages, with several videos of people hurling abuses at senior leaders of both parties, going viral.
Haryana police’s intelligence wing had last month had advised BJP and JJP ministers not to venture out in public without adequate security cover. BJP and JJP MLAs were even advised to convey their tour programmes to the concerned district administrations in advance, so adequate security could be ensured at the venues.
It was on December 9 last year that Khattar had to cancel his scheduled visit in Padha village of Karnal as agitated villagers damaged a helipad where he was supposed to land. On December 22, Khattar’s convoy was attacked by an agitated group of farmers in Ambala. The incident had led to the transfer of Ambala’s then superintendent of police, Rajesh Kalia, besides the government slapping ‘attempt to murder’ charge against the farmers who had obstructed the chief minister’s cavalcade and allegedly attacked a few of the vehicles in the convoy.
On Sunday, although Khattar’s primary purpose was to hold a conversation with farmers in Kaimla village, the government had announced that the CM was to announce various development works and lay foundation stones for a few projects. After police’s attempts to disperse agitated farmers — using tear gas shells, water cannon and mild cane charge — failed and farmers captured the venue, the event was canceled. However, the government later said that the chief minister could not land in Karnal “due to bad weather”.
Haryana BKU’s chief Gurnam Singh Chadhuni had been appealing to all farmers of state to protest at all such places visited by Khattar. Haryana police had already registered multiple FIRs against Chadhuni and various other farmer union leaders on multiple charges including ‘attempt to murder’.
After cancelling his programme in Karnal as he couldn’t land there, Khattar came to Chandigarh and addressed a press conference blaming Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, Congress and communists for inciting people to disrupt law and order.
“I had to make some announcements, because people of the village were expecting me to be there. I had to make announcements worth Rs 100 crore development projects, which could have been done from here too. We have a strong democratic set-up in our country, Constitution gives us all this right. We have never stopped anybody from expressing their views. Even due to Covid-19, we have made adequate arrangements for their safety and security. It is not right that we protest against anybody. Violation of constitutional provisions is unpardonable,” Khattar said.
“People have got a message due to this incident. I have received many calls that it was not right. These people have defamed farmers. It cannot be the behaviour of farmers. Gurnam Singh Chadhuni’s video released two days ago wherein he incited people is responsible for today’s incident. I am an elected representative. Such incidents expose them. I believe that Congress and communists have a major role to play behind such incidents. Through these agitations, if they think they can spread their wings, they are highly mistaken. I condemn today’s incident.”
“As far as farmers are concerned, I could not get an opportunity to say it all there in Karnal. Nobody would ever believe that prime minister is anti-farmer. After many years, prime minister has taken several decisions, taken several initiatives for people of all walks of life. Whenever something new is introduced, resentment happens. Similar thing happened when GST was introduced. Today, everybody is full of praise for it,” Khattar added.
The CM further said, “In 1990s, when liberalisation/globalisation issues came up, there were similar protests. After 25 years, now we see that people from our country are going abroad and doing business, people are coming from abroad into India and doing business. Globe is a village. Had it not happened, we could be moving on Lambretta and Vespa scooters only. But today we see Toyota, Jeep, Hyundai etc. New opportunities always attract protests. But if our intention is correct, it is always in people’s welfare.”
“Whenever a new policy is made, it always take time to see its benefits. Had we waited for some time, we would have gone to the Union government and said that there were discrepancies in the laws. I believe that we should wait for at least a year to see its benefits. Today also, these farm legislations are not binding on farmers. Mandis are there, MSP is there and shall always be there. Only an alternative has been given to the farmers. If they get MSP out of the mandi, why would farmer object to that? It will give him benefit.”
Defending the farm legislations, Khattar added, “Earlier, farmer could not sell it outside the Mandi. Now, he can with this alternative. Where is the problem? Similarly, contract farming was also in practice earlier. Now, it has been elaborated. If any corporator comes, farmer can enter into contract farming if he wishes. This too is not binding on farmer. Third issue is of stocking. It is important, because without adequate stocking facilities, lots of crop gets wasted. If we talk of Haryana, we would also be incurring loss of approximately Rs 4,000-5,000 crore if the crop gets wasted. Farmers would also benefit from this. Farmers as such are facing multiple litigations due to various land disputes. We have been introducing reforms so that they can get rid of such unnecessary disputes. We have been digitising their land records. We have been giving incentives on crop sowing. We are making several policies on how to increase farmers’ income.”
“Several hours-long meetings have taken place, discussions take place but in the end only one voice comes out – repeal the three laws. Government is not going to repeal these laws. It is certain. Even if state governments are exempted, there have to be amendments in these laws, only. Resolution can be achieved after discussion on certain points. But, I do not think that the government is going to withdraw these laws. I am hopeful that discussions are going in the right direction, that is why next date of meeting has been fixed,” Khattar said.
“People who are inciting farmers should not be doing so. People are dying there in this weather. I would say that such people are to be blamed for all this who are inciting farmers. I would suggest that this protest should end immediately so that these farmers can go back home,” Khattar added.
Talking more about protesting farmers who damaged the helipad and captured the venue in Kaimla village, Khattar said, “They are not our enemies. They are also our people. They are also of our state. People had come there to hear me. But certain unscrupulous elements created disruption.”
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