Punjab Chief Minister slams Haryana Chief Minister over ‘Khalistani’ remark

Chandigarh (IANS); Lashing out at his Haryana counterpart for inflicting brutality on Punjab’s farmers, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday demanded an unequivocal apology from Manohar Lal Khattar, accusing him of spreading lies by saying “Khalistanis are managing the protests.”

“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,” Amarinder Singh told the media.

After Haryana Police’s actions to use tear gas shells and water cannons on Punjab’s farmers, which injured many, there is no way he would talk to Khattar again as “neighbour or no neighbour,” Amarinder Singh asserted.

The Punjab Chief Minister said that if he could talk to the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister so many times on the farmers’ issue, why would he not take calls from a neighbouring Chief Minister if he had truly called earlier.

Questioning Khattar’s decision to not allow the farmers to go to the national capital peacefully when the Centre was ready to talk to them and even the Delhi government had no problem in letting them in, Amarinder Singh demanded to know “who’s Khattar to come in between? What business does he have interfering in this whole affair?”

Amarinder Singh also slammed Khattar for making baseless allegations that he was instigating the farmers and provoking them to agitate.

“I am a nationalist to the core. I run a border state and will never do anything to create law and order problem of any kind,” he asserted, adding that for 60 days, the farmers were blocking Punjab’s railway tracks, causing more than Rs 43,000 crore [1 crore = 10 million] in losses to the state.

“I will not take this nonsense from Khattar. Don’t I have better things to do than to incite the farmers,” he asked, adding that “sometimes they say it’s Khalistanis who’re managing the protests and sometimes they accuse me of doing it. Let them make up their minds.”

The Chief Minister categorically declared that no political party is involved in the farm protests, which are spontaneous reactions of the farmers who are fighting for their future.

Lambasting Khattar’s charge that the farmers were creating law and order problem, the Punjab Chief Minister said that Punjabis are law-abiding citizens and it is Haryana which is damaging public property and blocking the highways by forcibly stopping the farmers.

Terming as ludicrous Khattar’s claim that Haryana farmers were not part of the ‘Dilli Chalo’ agitation, Amarinder Singh said that Punjab’s intelligence showed that as many as 40,000-50,000 farmers from the neighbouring state had joined the march to the national capital, which even the Centre’s intelligence reports would have borne out.

“He (Khattar) doesn’t know what’s happening in his own state and he’s telling me what to do in my state,” Amarinder Singh.

Declaring that nobody is stopping corporate houses from coming into the agricultural marketing system, the Chief Minister pointed out that they are procuring and running businesses in Punjab even now.

They can do this while continuing with the existing system, both can run in parallel, he added.