CHANDIGARH: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has defended the police action against protesting farmers in Karnal, saying assurances of a peaceful protest were given, but stones were hurled at cops and a highway was blocked.
Around 10 people were injured on Saturday as police allegedly lathicharged a group of farmers disrupting traffic movement on a national highway while heading towards Karnal to protest against a BJP meeting.
Talking to reporters in Karnal on Saturday evening after the meeting, Khattar said the protesting farmers had earlier assured the government that their protests will be peaceful.
“If they had to protest, they should have done so in a peaceful manner, no one would have any objection to that. They had earlier assured that they will hold peaceful protests. But if they hurl stones at police, block highway, then police will take steps to maintain law and order,” said Khattar.
Referring to the BJP meeting in Karnal, Khattar said it was a state-level meeting of the party and “I condemn the call which they (farmers’ outfits) had given to oppose it.”
“Obstructing the function of any organisation, on account of any reason, in itself is anti-democratic,” he added.
Haryana’s Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Navdeep Singh Virk had earlier said only four protesters were injured, while ten cops sustained injuries in the incident.
He said some protesters pelted stones at the cops and tried to attack them.
Karnal Police IG Mamta Singh had said, “We used mild force because they were blocking the highway. Some stones were also pelted towards the police. Mild force was used to disperse the protesters”.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday met some of the injured protesters in a hospital in Karnal and condemned the “brutal lathicharge” by police.
Tikait said the conspiracy to attack the farmers in Karnal is clear from “the orders of the Duty Magistrate, who is ordering the police to break the heads of farmers and lash them with sticks”.
“The government is using lathis to suppress voice of farmers, but it is mistaken,” Tikait said.
Haryana BKU (Chaduni) chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni said a meeting of farmers’ outfits will be held in Karnal on Monday to discuss futue course of action in the wake of alleged lathicharge.
To protest the lathicharge incident, he said the call for road blockade was until Saturday evening and added further course will be decided on Monday.
Farmers protesting against the central farm laws have been opposing public functions of the BJP-JJP combine in Haryana.
Several farmers had gathered at the Bastara toll plaza near Karnal, responding to a call given by the BKU.
The use of force by police had invited severe criticism from opposition parties.