The khap panchats across Haryana have staged protests and burnt effigies of the state’s Agriculture Minister JP Dalal, seeking his dismissal for his controversial statement over the death of farmers during the ongoing agitation against Centre’s new farm laws.
They also passed a resolution condemning his statement and sought his removal from the state Cabinet.
In a widely-shared video on social media, Dalal was seen responding to a media query on the death of over 200 farmers during the ongoing stir, saying they would have died even if they had stayed back home.
“Had they been at their homes, they would have died there also. Listen to me, out of one to two lakh, don’t 200 people die in six months? Someone is dying of a heart attack and someone after falling ill,” Dalal had said.
Tekram Kandela, head of Kandela Khap in Haryana, told The Federal that this is an insult to the farmers and farming community of the country.
“Dalal’s statement is very insensitive and will be dealt with strictly. The resolution has been adopted by all khaps and we’ve demanded his sacking from Haryana Cabinet even though he may have tendered an apology. He will not be allowed to hold any public meetings or programs from now on,” said Kandela.
Dalal Khap, an influential Khap among Jats in Haryana which is also the home-khap to JP Dalal, also boycotted the agricultural minister.
Captain Man Singh Dalal, head of Dalal Khap, said they had stopped JP’s ‘hookahpani.’ The stopping of ‘hookahpani’ is considered as the maximum boycott of any person in Haryana, which includes the separation of a particular person from the caste or fraternity and ending social relations to the extent that not even a glass of water will be served to him.
This is not the first time when the Haryana BJP ministers gave an insensitive statement against the farmers. When the Union government was communicating with farmers, the BJP leaders of Haryana was seen targeting the farmers.
JP Dalal earlier had even gone to the extent of saying that the “farmer’s movement is sponsored by China and Pakistan.”
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said repeatedly the protesting farmers are Khalistanis. Later, he said that the protesters are not farmers and have “vested political intent.”
Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh has lashed out at the BJP saying that the part has lost moral ground to rule at the Centre and in Haryana. “The BJP-led government at the Centre should step down in the interest of the nation, as should the Khattar government in Haryana,” he said.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha also condemned Haryana agriculture minister’s statement as inhumane and warned that people would teach a suitable lesson for such arrogance.
No to BJP-JJP in Panchayat Polls
In Haryana, panchayat elections are due this month, but candidates associated with BJP-Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) are not being allowed to contest. All khaps have passed a resolution to not allow people associated with BJP-JJP to participate in the polls.
Sunil Bibipur, a BJP member, was to fight the panchayat election from Igra village in Jind. But in view of the protest and expressing solidarity with farmers and the community, he left party and not contesting elections as well. “For me, my community and the farmers come first, and the party later. Not just me, thousands of BJP members from Haryana have left BJP from the day the protests started in Haryana,” said Sunil.
There are nearly 120 khaps in Haryana, spread across its nine districts which make up the Jat belt — Jind, Rohtak, Sonepat, Rewari, Mahendragarh, Charkhi Dadri, Hisar, Bhiwani and Jhajjar. The khaps hold considerable power at the local levels. Such is its influence that the people listen to khap leaders more than their legislators.
Satbir Malik, spokesperson for Khaps in Haryana, told The Federal that they’ve unanimously decided to boycott BJP-JJP leaders in the panchayat elections.
“BJP-JJP have done enough atrocities on farmers. They cheated on the people and played with the feelings of the farmers in Haryana. It is not that the khaps alone are taking this decision of boycotting BJP-JJP by themselves; every person in Haryana’s villages are angry with the BJP-JJP,” he said.
“In the areas where khaps are active, no BJP worker will be allowed to work or promote the party at any level. Thousands of BJP workers have already resigned and we will be pushing more BJP members to quit the party,” added Satbir.