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Punjab, Haryana CMs in war of words as farmers’ protest rages

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 28-11-2020 Express News Service
a couple of people that are sitting on a table © Provided by The Indian Express

A war of words erupted between Chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab Saturday even as protesting farmers, who are opposing the three Central farm laws, stayed put at the Singhi and Tikri border points for the third consecutive day.

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar blamed political parties and “some organisations” in Punjab for “sponsoring” the farmers’ movement at the border areas of the national capital. “This movement is primarily being sponsored by political parties in Punjab and some organisations there. I have tried several times to talk to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, over the last 3 days regarding the movement, but he did not speak to me. We dialled 6-7 times but each time his staff just kept saying we will get it done now, we will get it done in some time,” Khattar said while speaking to reporters in Gurgaon.

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Punjab CM Amarinder, on the other hand, demanded an unequivocal apology from his Haryana counterpart, accusing him of spreading lies and sticking his nose into a matter in which his state had no role to play. “Khattar is lying that he tried calling me earlier and I did not respond. But now, after what he has done to my farmers, I will not speak to him even if he calls me 10 times. Unless he apologises and admits that he did wrong with Punjab’s farmers, I will not forgive him,” Singh said.

a group of people sitting in front of a crowd © Provided by The Indian Express Thousands of farmers dug in their heels at Delhi's border points, their numbers swelling through the day as many more joined them.

Singh further said that there was no way he would talk to Khattar again after Haryana government's actions of teargassing and baton-charging Punjab’s farmers and hurling water cannons at them, causing many of them to be injured. In any case, said Amarinder Singh, if he could talk to the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister so many times on the farmers’ issue, why would he have not taken calls from a neighbouring chief minister if he had truly called earlier.

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Khattar said: “Such a poor situation has happened for the first time that a chief minister is trying to talk to another chief minister and is not able to do so. In the last 6 years, this has happened for the first time. Earlier, when we called, if he was busy we would be able to talk in an hour or half an hour.”

© Provided by The Indian Express A clash between farmers and Police during protest at Sindhu Border, in New Delhi on Friday. (Express photo: Praveen Khanna)

Khattar alleged that “political bread was being baked” in the name of farmers, and termed this “unfortunate and condemnable”. On being asked about the Punjab government’s "conspiracy behind the farmers’ movement", Khattar said, “It definitely seems like that because cardholders from their office are walking at the front of the movement, are leading the farmers.”

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Khattar thanked the farmers of Haryana for “not participating in the movement”, and praised Haryana Police for acting with “complete restraint” and “not using force”.

a group of people wearing military uniforms © Provided by The Indian Express Delhi Police used tear gas shells to disperse the farmers who had reached the Singhu border. (Express photo: Praveen Khanna)

“Police also operated with complete restraint during this period and did not use force anywhere. They only did the work of stopping them because there is no justification for going to Delhi in such large numbers,” said Khattar. He also appealed to the farmers of Punjab to have their representatives talk to the central government in this matter since “negotiation is the solution”.

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