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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Khattar hits back: Only amendments, govt won’t repeal farm laws

“The Government is not going to repeal these laws. It is certain. Even if state governments are to be exempted, there will only be amendments. A resolution can be reached after discussion on certain points. But I don't think the Government is going to withdraw these laws," Khattar said.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | January 11, 2021 3:12:16 am
CM Manohar Lal Khattar Farmers protestCM Manohar Lal Khattar. He said that the farmers' organizations had given firm assurances of a peaceful protest in Delhi but “this incident has proved that the leadership of this protest has gone into the hands of those who have a difference between their words and deeds”. (File)

Forced to scrap his visit to Karnal Sunday after farm protesters took over the venue, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar accused Opposition parties and state BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni of inciting people to disrupt law and order, and insisted that the Centre will not repeal its new agriculture laws.

Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh after his visit to the venue of a BJP “kisan panchayat” in Karnal’s Kaimla village was cancelled, Khattar said: “The Government is not going to repeal these laws. It is certain. Even if state governments are to be exempted, there will only be amendments. A resolution can be reached after discussion on certain points. But I don’t think the Government is going to withdraw these laws. I am hopeful that discussions are going in the right direction, that is why the next date of meeting has been fixed.”

Asked about the laws, he said: “Whenever a new policy is made, it always takes 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 these laws. I believe we should wait for at least one year to see its benefits. Even today, 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 farmers object to that? It will benefit them.”

Referring to the scheduled visit to Karnal, his home constituency, the Chief Minister said that he “had to make some announcements of Rs 100-crore development projects at the village”.

Blaming the violence on “certain unscrupulous elements,” he said: “We have a strong democratic set-up in our country, the Constitution gives all these rights. We have never stopped anyone from expressing their views. Even amid Covid-19, we made adequate arrangements for their safety and security. But the violation of Constitutional provisions is unpardonable,” he said.

Hitting out at the Opposition and Chadhuni, Khattar said: “These people have defamed farmers, this 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 believe that the Congress party and the Communists have a major role to play in such incidents. Through these agitations, if they think they can spread their wings, they are highly mistaken,” he said.

“People are dying there (on Delhi’s outskirts) in this weather… I would suggest that this protest should end immediately so that these farmers can go back home,” Khattar said.

Asked about the violence 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.”

Sunday was not the first time that Khattar had to cancel a scheduled programme amid the farm protests. On December 9, he scrapped a visit to Padha village in Karnal with protesters damaging the helipad. On December 22, his convoy was attacked by protesters in Ambala, with the state government charging the accused with attempt to murder.

Besides, the state’s BJP and ally JJP leaders, including ministers and MPs, have mostly been confined to offices and homes and avoiding non-party public appearances. Several videos have surfaced on social media of senior leaders from both parties being abused on visits to villages where the protests have gained ground.

Haryana police’s intelligence wing, meanwhile, advised BJP and ally JJP ministers to not venture out in public without adequate security cover. MLAs from both parties were also advised to convey their tour programmes to district administrations in advance to ensure adequate security.

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