Capt Amarinder Singh terms use of force against farmers ‘an assault on their constitutional right to protest’

Pointing out that the farmers were not violating any law or indulging in violence, the Punjab CM said the attempts to stop them were “not good for democracy”

Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
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Bipin Bhardwaj

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has strongly condemned the use of brutal force by Haryana government in a futile bid to stop the agitating farmers from going to Delhi on Thursday, terming it as an assault on their constitutional and democratic right to protest. He also urged the Delhi government to earmark a place for them to sit peacefully to highlight their concerns on the farm laws.

Recalling that he had led MLAs from Punjab to sit on a symbolic dharna last month at an allotted place at Jantar Mantar, the Chief Minister said something similar can be done for the farmers so that they can exercise their democratic right to speak and share their views with the national media. “Hasn’t the BJP sat at Ramlila Maidan on protest rallies in the past? Why should the farmers not be allowed to go to their own capital city and speak out against the farm laws if they want to?” he said. He urged the Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana to allow the agitated farmers to pass through the national highway to take their voice to Delhi peacefully.

Pointing out that the farmers were not violating any law or indulging in violence, Capt Amarinder Singh said the attempts to stop them were “not good for democracy”. Actions can lead to counter-reactions, especially from the thousands of youngsters who were among the agitating farmers, he warned, adding that he was surprised at Khattar’s remarks to his posts on Twitter.

Expressing surprise at Khattar’s remarks in response to his earlier statement on the use of force by Haryana Police, the Punjab Chief Minister said, “It is the farmers who need to be convinced on MSP, not me. Khattar should have tried to talk to the farmers before the start of their Dilli Chalo march if he thought he could persuade them,” he said.

Rejecting Khattar’s charge that he (Capt. Amarinder) was inciting farmers to protest, he wondered as to why farmers from Haryana were also marching to Delhi in that case.

He also denied Khattar’s claim that he had been ‘unreachable’ and said the Haryana chief minister had not made any attempt to get in touch with him. “Why would I not speak to him when I am speaking to the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister regularly on the farmers’ issue?” he asked, adding that even today he had spoken to Amit Shah twice on the situation at the Punjab-Haryana border. He said he had told Shah that the farmer leaders were not violent and the minor skirmishes that had taken place were a reaction to the actions of Haryana Police.

Hoping that the farmer leaders would go for the December 3 meeting convened by the Centre, Capt Amarinder Singh stressed that confrontation was no solution and both sides had to sit across the table to resolve the issue. He urged the Central government to provide a legal/constitutional assurance on MSP to the farmers. If the Centre does not want to amend the farm laws they should amend the Food Security Act and also incorporate the same into the APMC Act, he said.

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