January 29, 2021 9:24:56 am
HOURS AFTER Delhi Police said it had issued look out notices against agitating farmers leaders booked for alleged murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy, the Congress and the AAP spoke in unison to condemn the Centre’s action. These political parties said that the Union government had not only “shrunk the space to protest in a democracy”, but also branded the “agitation as a protest of radicals against the Union of India”. The BJP, however, defended police action.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed the lookout notices as “absolutely wrong”.
“Where will they flee?” asked the chief minister, adding that most of them are small farmers with small land holdings and not some “big corporate raiders” like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi and Mehul Choksi who had fled over the past few years after “looting” the country of billions of rupees.
“You failed to stop these bigwigs but are now targeting these small farmers fighting for their survival,” he said and appealed to the Centre to immediately direct the Delhi Police to withdraw the lookout notices.
The Delhi Police has issued lookout notices against farmer leaders who have been named in an FIR filed in connection with the violence that broke out during the farmers’ tractor parade in the national capital on R-Day. A lookout notice is issued to prevent an accused from leaving the country.
“How can you blame all the farmer leaders for the mischief done by a breakaway group or the handiwork of some anti-social elements, who instigated the violence at the Red Fort and other parts of the national capital,” he asked.
PPCC chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar said: “There is no space for protests here. The government wants to make it the last protest in democratic history of the country. They are trying to malign the farmers leaders as trouble-creators. They want to brand them all as Khalistanis. Even the Supreme Court had agreed that they should not be branded as Khalistanis. There were certain miscreants like Deep Sidhu who created trouble. Those who were responsible for that act should have been acted upon. We all knew this was coming.”
He added: “BJP leaders were calling farmers’ hooligans, then were issuing NIA summons. This was all a prelude to this.”
The senior Congress leader said that nobody believed BJP’s propaganda. “It is just their troll army that is trying to create this impression. But nobody is believing them. They think they can spoon-feed opinions also by their propaganda. They think people will not apply their mind and will get taken in by the propaganda,” he said
AAP member and Leader of Opposition in Vidhan Sabha, Harpal Singh Cheema, said the real culprits of the Red Fort violence should have been booked, rather than farmer leaders.
“We all know Deep Sidhu is responsible. I will not get into who propped him but it is wrong to book the farmers leaders. We all know their march was peaceful. There was not a single untoward incident. The residents of Delhi showered flower petals on them that day. But they want to make the farmers look like criminals,” he said.
Cheema termed the police cases as a “nefarious move” of the Centre to put an end to the farmers’ movement. He said that rumours were being spread to discredit the farmers’ movement and appealed to the people of Punjab and the country’s citizens not to pay attention to such rumours.
The Punjab BJP, meanwhile, justified action against farmer leaders. Party leader Surjit Kumar Jyani said, “Nothing is hidden these days. Did these people not ask protestors of assemble in Delhi on Republic Day? Don’t they know it is such a big day for us Indians? Then they were given routes by the police but they did not honour that. It was their responsibility to ensure that their supporters stick to the routes. They created ruckus on Delhi roads, there was so much of violence, 400 police personnel were injured. Now, they should take responsibility, reply to the police and say sorry.”
Jyani added that they were not saying everybody was a Khalistanis in the agitation.
“We have been saying that there were wrong elements in the agitation. We are not saying they all are Khalistanis. But common man will not be named in the FIRs. It will be the leaders. They created such ruckus on Delhi roads that we should all salute Union Home Minister Amit Shah that he did not let Delhi convert into a Jallianwala Bagh.”
Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma, meanwhile, said that Amarinder government had lent support to the protesting farmers for blocking the railway tracks, uprooting the communication towers and paralysing the toll plazas in the state.
“The Amarinder government also incited violence against the BJP leaders and created a horrific law and order situation in Punjab,” he said, adding the Red Fort incident was the culmination of the Congress government’s overt and covert support to disruptive elements among farmers, he said adding that “the fact that no person indulging in violence in Punjab has been brought to book proved that the Amarinder government allowed free hand to such elements to create problems for the Modi government”.
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