Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, whose government has landed in multiple controversies over the use of force on protesting farmers, has been accused of publicly advocating strong-arm tactics by the opposition Congress. The video, in circulation on social media and cited by the Congress, shows Mr Khattar speaking of raising volunteer groups, which, he said, can administer “tit for tat” treatment.
The Chief Minister’s Office said the statement has been “spread after cutting it in half”.
“If you watch this full video, you will understand what he said. During an internal meeting of BJP workers, the Chief Minister has talked about the workers being in discipline and strongly opposed to any wrongdoing. The Chief Minister said that work has to be done with zeal, keeping consciousness and discipline,” the statement in Hindi read.
“There are some new farm groups which have emerged recently. We have to support them,” Mr Khattar is heard saying in the video.
“In the north and west Haryana, farmers should raise armed groups… Raise volunteer groups of 500-700-1000 people and pick up sticks and then follow a ‘tit for tat’ policy… Don’t bother about the consequences and if you go behind the bars for this then don’t worry about getting bail. You will come out a big leader,” he added.
The Chief Minister was addressing a group that had come to his official residence to thank him for getting the grain procurement started which was postponed till October 11.
The pushback came immediately came from Congress’s Randeep Surjewala.
“Your guru mantra of instigating BJP supporters to attack the protesting farmers with sticks, go to jail and then make them leaders will never be successful. This call to spread anarchy at an open programme by taking oath of the constitution is treason. It appears that Modi-Nadda ji are in agreement (with you),” read a rough translation of a Hindi tweet from Mr Surjewala.
अगर प्रदेश का मुख्य मंत्री ही हिंसा फैलाने, समाज को तुड़वाने और क़ानून व्यवस्था को ख़त्म करने की बात करेंगे, तो प्रदेश में क़ानून और सविंधान का शासन चल ही नही सकता।
आज भाजपा के किसान विरोधी षड्यंत्र का भंडाफोड़ हो ही गया।
ऐसी अराजक सरकार को चलता करने का समय आ गया है। pic.twitter.com/kSgk8kiCUx
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 3, 2021
The last use of force on farmers by the Haryana police took place on August 28. Around 10 people were injured as the Haryana police lathi-charged farmers who blocked a highway while on way to Karnal to protest against a BJP meeting attended by Chief Minister.
The repercussions carried on well into last month, with furious farmers demanding action against Ayush Sinha – an IAS officer seen directing the police to “break the heads” of farmers.
Mr Khattar had defended the officer – saying at a press conference that although his “choice of words was not correct, strictness had to be maintained to keep the law and order situation under control”.
In November last year, farmers coming to Delhi for the ongoing indefinite protest, had to face batons, tear gas, water cannons and barricades in Haryana.