Opposition slams government over police action against farmers; Congress says ‘Badshah’ drunk with power

New Delhi | Opposition parties on Tuesday put the blame on the Modi government for what they described as “brutal police action” against thousands of farmers marching towards the national capital, with the Congress alleging that the “Badshah of Delhi Sultanate was drunk with power”.

The parties accused the central government of being ‘anti-farmer’ and demanded allowing the protesters to enter Delhi to peacefully air their grievances, even as the government went into a huddle to mull over ways to convince the farmers to call off their protest.

Farmers stayed put on the Delhi-UP border in Ghaziabad and other places, where they were stopped by the police including with the use of water cannons and tear-gas shells. Some reports suggested use of lathi-charge as well.

The protest call has been given by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) over demands ranging from farm loan waiver to cut in fuel prices.

The farmers, riding tractors and trolleys, broke barricades of the UP Police and then started proceeding towards the barricades put up by the Delhi Police. Tear gas was also used to disperse the crowd, officials said.

Reacting to the development, Congress president Gandhi Tuesday accused the BJP for “brutal beating up” of farmers at the Delhi border on the International Day of Non-Violence and said that they cannot even air their grievances in the national capital.

“On International Day of Non-Violence, the BJP’s two-year Gandhi Jayanti celebrations began with the brutal beating of farmers peacefully coming to Delhi. Now, the farmers cannot even air the grievances coming to the capital!” he tweeted in Hindi.

The Congress Working Committee, the highest decision-making body of the party which held its meeting in Maharashtra, also adopted a resolution strongly condemning the police action against the farmers.

Condemning the police action, Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said if the Centre can write off huge debt of a few industrialists why it could not waive the loans of farmers.

Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he alleged that “arrogance has gone to his head”. “Instead of hearing them out, farmers are brutalised and beaten up. The Baadshah in the Delhi Sultanate is drunk with power,” the Congress leader alleged.

Hitting out at the police action against the farmers, Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “We strongly condemn this action and atrocities on farmers. This once again demonstrates the anti-farmer attitude of the Modi government.

“Modi government has backtracked on all its promises made to farmers. This anger and protest is not bothering the Modi government,” he said.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav also extended his party’s support to the protesting farmers and alleged the farm community has been hit hard by the rising fuel prices, as well as due to the decisions like the GST rollout and demonetisation.

“The farmers have come out in support of their various demands… If we look at things, in the past over four years, almost 50,000 farmers have committed suicide, mostly in BJP-ruled states, including Uttar Pradesh,” Yadav said.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) also condemned the police action against the agitating farmers.

“The farmers who were on a peaceful march towards the national capital under the banner of BKU raising their genuine demands including waiver of loans were stopped by police at the border and beaten up on a day when the nation is celebrating the birth anniversary of the Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi,” the party said in a statement.

The Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha also condemned the police “brutality” on protesting farmers and slammed the government over the issue.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that preventing a protest march of farmers from entering the national capital was “wrong” and pitched for allowing them entry into the city.

“Why are the farmers being stopped from entering Delhi. It is wrong. Delhi belongs to all. They should be given entry in Delhi. We support their demands,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event held at the Delhi assembly to mark Gandhi Jayanti.

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashvi Yadav said that by discarding the Swaminathan committee report, the Modi government has stabbed the farmers in the back.

“Modi ji, though farmers, unlike capitalists, cannot fill your pockets, but at least don’t get them beaten up. If you would have seen poverty, you would not have committed so many atrocities on farmers,” he tweeted in Hindi.

The Delhi Police had on Monday imposed prohibitory orders in east and northeast Delhi, anticipating law and order problems as thousands of BKU members were marching from Haridwar to reach the national capital.

Seeking to convince the farmers to move back from their protest, the government announced that a committee of chief ministers will look into their demands, but the protesters stayed put saying they were not “satisfied” with the assurance.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh held discussions with Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and a few others to discuss the farmers’ issue, after which Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat met the protesters to assure them that their demands will be looked into.

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