CHANDIGARH, Punjab—In a verbal war with his counterpart in Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar over the issue of farmers’ stir, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today criticized him for labeling Punjab farmers “anti-national” and “Khalistanis”.
“A man who can disown his own farmers, and even go so far as to call them Khalistanis, instead of standing by them in this hour of crisis clearly has no moral scruples about spreading lies,” he said, adding that Khattar clearly could not be trusted.
Trashing the so-called call records released by his Haryana counterpart as a complete fraud, the Punjab CM said flaunting a page of his own office register cannot condone ML Khattar’s lies, and if he really wanted to connect, he could easily have used official channels or called upon the mobile phone.
Dismissing it as a pathetic attempt by Khattar to prove his claims, Captain Amarinder said, by releasing the call record copies, purporting to be of his office’s attempt to get in touch with him, the Haryana chief minister had, in fact, exposed his deception even more sharply. “If at all someone from his office called my residence, why were the calls made to an attendant? Why were official channels not used to get in touch with me?” asked the Punjab Chief Minister.
“Top officials of the Punjab government, at Principal Secretary and DGP levels among others, have been in touch with each other on the farmers’ issue for the past several days, yet none of these officials conveyed Khattar’s desire to talk to me at any point in time,” the Chief Minister pointed out, adding that his Haryana counterpart’s attempt to seize high moral ground on the farmers’ Dilli Challo march was pathetic. “How many times in the past has Khattar used the attendant channel to get in touch with me,” he asked, asking the Haryana chief minister to stop lying.
In any case, said Captain Amarinder, “I have an attendant to receive calls at my residence only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, as I don’t believe in ill-treating my staff members. Khattar could simply have picked up the phone and called me on my mobile phone.”
Captain Amarinder said the fact of the matter was that the Haryana CM was out to suppress the farmers and had no serious intent of discussing their protests with him. “If I can talk to a whole lot of central leaders, right from the Prime Minister, on the issue of the farmers’ protest, why would I try to wriggle out of talking to Khattar on the same?” he quipped, assailing his counterpart in the neighbouring state for politicizing the genuine demands of the farmers and their very real on-ground fight for survival.
The Chief Minister also lashed out at Khattar over his remarks that “Amarinder would be responsible if Covid spreads now due to the farmers’ protest.” If he (Khattar) was so concerned about farmers spreading Covid in Haryana, whose track record in the pandemic remains extremely poor, he should not have stopped them within the state, but should have allowed them to move quickly through to Delhi, said the Punjab Chief Minister.
On Khattar’s remark that farmers should not block Haryana’s borders, Captain Amarinder pointed out that it was Khattar’s government and police that had been blocking the borders for the past 3 days by forcibly stopping the farmers from proceeding.
The Chief Minister also flayed Khattar’s persistent denial of use of force by Haryana Police despite the fact that all the visuals were a matter of public record captured by the media. “He has the gall to deny something which is in plain sight. This shows the extent of his lies,” said Captain Amarinder, pointing out that injured farmers could be seen on every TV channel.
Captain Amarinder noted that Khattar’s lies on the issue had been totally exposed by the Haryana farmers themselves, as they had not only rejected their chief minister’s claims that no farmer from his state had joined the march but had shown their ID cards, duly issued by the Haryana government.