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Farmers Protests: Hooda hits out at Haryana CM over remarks on use of water cannons against farmers

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Chandigarh: Senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Monday hit out at Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar over his remarks that he did not consider using water cannons and tear gas shells as use of force against the protesting farmers. “Showering jets of cold water on the farmers who have left their homes to seek justice in the harsh winter and open skies during the pandemic is not a minor action, it is inhuman,” the former Haryana chief minister said.

Hooda, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, said, “The Chief Minister should know how deadly the use of tear gas can prove to be for the elderly farmers who are also part of the movement”.

“Four days ago, the farmers were going to Delhi with their demands, they did not have any confrontation with the Haryana government nor were they performing any dharna in Haryana,” the former Chief Minister said in a statement here.

“Their demand was from the central government and in such a situation, the Haryana government had no right to stop the farmers from proceeding to the national capital. Despite this, the government adopted every tactic to stop the farmers,” the statement said.

Justifying why Haryana authorities initially stopped farmers from Punjab at inter-state borders, Khattar had told reporters in Hisar on Sunday, “We stopped them and told them no one will allow such big gatherings in Delhi, but they did not listen and went forcibly ahead.”

“We said we will not use force. And I don’t consider the use of water cannons and tear gas shells as the use of force,” Khattar had said, referring to their use by the Haryana Police to stop Punjab farmers from entering the state.

Hooda also demanded the withdrawal of cases registered against the farmers in the state during their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march.

The Haryana Police had booked state Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni and several farmers for attempt to murder and rioting, officials had said earlier.

Besides Ambala district, hundreds of farmers have been booked for rioting, unlawful assembly, obstructing public servants in discharge of public functions, damage to public property and provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in Panipat, Rohtak, Kaithal, Sirsa and other districts.

Hooda said every individual and every section of the society has the right to convey their voice before the government through democratic means.

“The voice of the farmer cannot be suppressed by arresting them or implicating them in false cases,” he said.

Hooda reiterated that there should be no delay in accepting the demand of farmers.

“The demands of the farmers are justified and clear. They say that either the three farm laws should be withdrawn, or the government should guarantee them the MSP,” he said.

Protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new agri-marketing laws enacted at the Centre will lead to the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving peasants at the mercy of big corporates.

The government, however, says that the new laws give farmers options to get higher prices for their crops and the MSP regime will still continue.

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