Oppn seeks to corner Karnataka govt on police action against farmers

Bengaluru :Opposition BJP and JD(S) today sought to corner the Karnataka government in the assembly, condemning the police action on farmers who were on a protest march to the city seeking solution to their water woes in two parched districts of the state.

Calling the Congress-led state government “anti farmer”, the opposition sought public apology from Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and action against the police officers for lathicharge during the protest yesterday that caused traffic chaos for hours, particularly blocking the airport road.

Home Minister G Parameshwara said the police showed utmost restraint and that no baton charge happened but only minimal force was used.

The government also promised to take back all cases registered against farmers.

However, unhappy over the government’s response, BJP members walked out of the House in protest.

Earlier, BJP members raised the issue showing posters and demanded a discussion and were later joined by JD(S) members.

Objecting to the display of posters, Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa requested the members to allow the House to function and asked them to raise the issue during the discussion on motion of thanks to Governor’s address.

Opposition Leader Jagadish Shettar questioned the police action and said government could have taken proactive steps in addressing the farmers issue by calling a meeting.

Siddaramaiah replied that he had called for a meeting on March 6 and communicated about it to farmers, in spite of which they took out the protest.

Hitting back at the opposition, he said, “Our government is farmer friendly and need not learn lessons about farmers from BJP….”
Agitated by the remarks, BJP members accompanied by JD(S) MLS’s, entered the well of the House and shouted slogans against the government following which the government agreed for discussion.

Initiating the discussion, Shettar alleged there was lack of coordination within the government and the police department in handling such situations.

Condemning the incident, Shettar demanded that government tender a public apology and action should be taken against those police officials responsible for “attack” on farmers.

JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy said farmers did not come to the city to explode a bomb or to disrupt peace for police to act with force on them.

The government has to take responsibility for the incident and take action, he said.

Parameshwara said police had taken adequate measures and there were intelligence reports of farmers laying siege to Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat, with tractors.

He said the farmers moved towards the city cutting through the barricades erected and to protect peace and public property they were dispersed by using “minimum force.”

Maintaining that police showed utmost restraint, he said “there was no lathi charge” to which BJP objected, resulting in a war of words between them and Congress members.

Siddarmaiah narrated the sequence of events and said “no lathicharge was done.”

With Siddaramaiah not heeding to BJP’s demand for public apology for the incident, the saffron party walked out of the House in protest.