February 14, 2021 8:11:50 pm
Protests were held in various parts of Haryana to condemn alleged “insensitive remarks” passed by state Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister J P Dalal about farmers who had died during the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders against the Centre’s farm laws. Farmers burnt effigies of Dalal at several locations.
In a video that is being widely shared on social media, Dalal is purportedly heard responding to a media query on over 200 farmers’ deaths during the ongoing stir and commenting that they would have died even if they had stayed back home.
“Had they been at their homes, they would have died there also. Listen to me, out of one to two lakh, don’t 200 people die in six months? Someone is dying of a heart attack and someone after falling ill”, Dalal had purportedly said.
Hours later, the minister said his statement had been twisted on social media and “wrong meaning” was attributed to it. “If anybody is hurt by it, I tender my apology,” he said, adding he would continue to work for farmers’ welfare, and that it is painful if anyone dies.
Farmers, especially those sitting at toll plazas on national highways, burnt effigies of the minister. All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) Haryana unit secretary Dayanand Poonia said the farmers were angry at Dalal’s remarks. “The minister laughed at the deaths of farmers who died during the agitation. He even tried to defame the farmer agitation,” said Poonia. According to the farmer leader, the agitators burnt effigies of the minister in several villages of Bhiwani district including Bidhwan, Matani, Kalali, Talwani, Mandoli and Obra.
Farmers at Landhdi toll plaza on Hisar-Sirsa national highway also burnt effigy of the minister. Former Hisar Zila Parishad member Suresh Kumar said the farmers had started making phone calls on Saturday evening itself to stage protests after a video clipping of the minister’s statement had gone viral.
Ever since the protests began, Dalal has been facing farmers’ ire for his controversial statements. The farmers have apprehensions that “corporates will grab their land after introduction of the three farm laws.”
Dalal however said, “The already existing mandi system will continue to function. Now, only an alternative system has been offered, which is just optional. The farmers can opt for any of the systems. There is nothing in the laws which is binding on the farmers. There is no logic for agitation in Haryana. The small farmers have been misled by telling them that the mandi system will collapse and the minimum support price (MSP) will stand ended after introduction of new laws.”
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