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‘Officer’s choice of words wrong but strictness had to be maintained’: Haryana CM on Karnal lathicharge

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Karnal: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, while reacting to SDM Ayush Sinha’s controversial instructions to the police stationed in Karnal to ‘crack the heads of the protesting farmers’ if anyone breached the security cordon, said “although the officer’s choice of words was not correct, strictness had to be maintained to ensure law and order situation there was kept under check”.

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In a video clip that went viral on social media Sinha, the 2018-batch IAS officer of the Haryana cadre, was heard instructing a group of policemen: “Utha utha ke maarna peeche sabko (hit them hard)… We shall not allow this cordon to be breached. We have enough force available. We haven’t slept for the past two days. But you have come here after taking some sleep… Mere paas ek bhi banda nikal ke nahi aana chahiye. Agar aaye toh sar foota hua hona chahiye uska. Clear hai aapko (No one should break the cordon and reach me. If someone does, make sure he has a broken head. Hope this is clear).”

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Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh on Monday, Khattar said, “If any action has to be taken [against the officer], it would first have to be assessed by the district administration. The DGP is also looking into it. To maintain law and order, strictness had to be ensured.”

Explaining the action by the cops, Khattar said, “Today, you have called me here. But, if somebody says that they would not allow the CM to reach a certain place, is it correct? They [farmers] need to understand that they are not gaining anything out of such protests. People are no longer sympathetic towards them. I am getting phone calls that they [farmers] need to be dealt with strictly. But we are exercising restraint because they are our people.”

He added, “There is freedom of speech, but there are limitations to every freedom. If I flex my muscle and move my fist in the air and my fist hits your nose, that cannot be construed as my freedom.”

Talking about the ongoing farmers’ protests in Haryana, Khattar blamed the Punjab government for misleading them.

“Anybody can do anything as per democratic norms. They can show black flags, they can say whatever they want to, but they must not indulge in violence. They had earlier not allowed my helicopter to land in Karnal. Had I insisted that the helicopter will land at the same spot, police would have used force. What would have happened then? Punjab government has a hand in the ongoing protests in Haryana. This is the bitter truth.”

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Talking about the lathicharge incident, Khattar alleged that the farmers had planned to not allow their meeting to take place and the district administration and police did what they had to do to maintain the law-and-order situation there. “They could have shown black flags or resorted to sloganeering. That is permissible. Our state president OP Dhankar was stopped from reaching the meeting venue. Earlier, the Deputy Speaker of Vidhan Sabha’s vehicle was vandalised in Sirsa. Such disruptions are not permissible under democratic norms.”

This comes a day after Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said that the government would certainly take action against him. “I am pained from yesterday’s incident, the way statements that don’t meet ethical standards of an IAS officer were given by an IAS officer. Action will be initiated against him as per framework of time.”

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