June 2, 2021 9:04:50 am
JJP MLA from Haryana’s Tohana constituency Devender Babli’s convoy was attacked by a group of anti-farm law protesters in Tohana’s market area on Tuesday. The group was shouting anti-government slogans and carrying black flags in protest against the three central farm legislations. Although Babli escaped unhurt, his PA Radhe Bishnoi sustained head injuries, for which he received stitches.
The incident took place at around noon when Babli was on his way to attend a Covid vaccination drive for the differently abled at Tohana Civil Hospital.
The MLA’s SUV also got damaged as the mob attacked with wooden sticks and iron rods. Babli alleged that some of the protesters first rammed a vehicle into his SUV and then began smashing the windshield of his vehicle.
Later in the day, BKU’s Gurnam Singh Chadhuni released a video message, calling the incident a “deliberate attempt of the ruling dispensation to create unrest and disrupt communal harmony”. He also alleged that the protesters were lathicharged, which police denied.
Speaking to The Indian Express, on phone, Babli condemned the attack: “This is the state of affairs in our state where a handful of people can attack a public representative who has won with lakhs of votes. I have informed my party’s leader, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, about the incident. I had also called Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to inform him that the situation is not at all good across the state and he should immediately resolve this ongoing issue with farmers. If we fail to resolve this issue timely, the consequences for all of us would be really bad. We should not emerge as a weak government.”
Describing the incident, he said: “Some unscrupulous elements, in the garb of farmers agitation, attacked my vehicle. It is nothing but an attempt to tarnish the image of farmers too…A bunch of people first hit my vehicle with a green Maruti Gypsy and blocked my way. Then the other group began attacking my vehicle and smashed the windows. The mob was too agitated and began hurling abuses. I reacted and told them that besides being a MLA, I am also a common citizen and they have no rights to behave with me in such a manner…My PA was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle. As a bunch of people wielded sticks and smashed the rear windscreen of my vehicle, pieces of shattered glass hit my PA’s head and he sustained severe head injuries.”
He added, “While I was on my way to the civil hospital, I went to the market for some personal family work. It was that time that this bunch of people attacked me.”
Asked if there were any security personnel with him at the time, Babli said: “Since it was a personal visit, there was nobody with me except my driver and my PA. Police were deployed at the civil hospital. However, when I informed the police about the attack on my vehicle, they reached the spot.”
Sources said Babli was also caught on camera indulging in heated arguments and abusive language with the attackers in police presence.
Chaduni’s video message
Reacting to the incident, Chadhuni in a video message appealed farmers to assemble in Tohana on Wednesday. “They deliberately come out, particularly in the Jat dominated belts, to disrupt communal harmony so that they can blame us later. This MLA shall be coming to Tohana tomorrow also. I appeal to all my brothers to come out in full strength to Tohana tomorrow and we shall see how he abuses us again,” he said.
After the incident, police began identifying suspects. Reacting to police action, farmers also blocked the Fatehabad-Sirsa highway and a few other internal roads and threatened to block other roads on Wednesday if Babli does not apologise.
While Chadhuni claimed that police opened canecharge on the protesters, Fatehabad’s Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said, “No lathicharge was done. Legal action will be taken against those who indulged in violence.”
At the time of filing this report, sources said a case was likely to be registered against the attackers by late evening.
This is not the first time BJP-JJP leaders have been attacked in Haryana, amid the ongoing farm agitation.
Khattar, Dushyant Chautala, several BJP MPs and state Cabinet ministers have been facing such protests across the state, including in their own constituencies, in the wake of the ongoing farmers protest.
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