For many days now, protesting farmers have staged large-scale protests in Haryana’s Karnal, blocking highways and holding a maha panchayat of sorts. This comes in the backdrop of the August 28 incident, when Karnal’s sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Ayush Sinha was heard instructing the police to “break the head of the protestors,” while adding that they have the permission to deal with the protestors using the amount of force which they deem fit. This had caused widespread outrage on social media, and the protesting farmers were enraged, leading to them staging protests across Haryana, especially in Karnal.
The BJP-led government of Haryana, under the leadership of Manohar Lal Khattar, was for so long trying to shield the SDM in question. However, it has now given in to the tremendous pressure and has announced a series of decisions to probe the August 28 incident. In the latest development in the Karnal protests, the Haryana government met farmer leaders on Saturday morning. After the meeting, the administration offered an impartial inquiry in the case led by a retired High Court judge as well as compensation for the family of the deceased.
Deceased farmer Satish Kajal's two family members to be compensated with jobs at DC rate on sanctioned posts: Additional Chief Secretary Devender Singh, Govt of Haryana
— ANI (@ANI) September 11, 2021
Furthermore, for the time that the enquiry is progressing, the state government has offered to send the accused officer on leave and has promised two jobs for the family members of the deceased farmer. Addressing a joint press conference of the administration and the farmer leaders, Additional Chief Secretary Devender Singh said, “Former SDM Ayush Sinha will be on leave during this period. Haryana Government will give jobs to 2 families of deceased farmer Satish Kajal on Sanctioned Post in Karnal district at DC rate.”
Khattar Buckling Under Chautala’s Pressure
A day after the incident involving Karnal SDM instructing policemen to break the heads of protesting farmers, Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala said, “The use of such kind of words by an IAS officer for farmers is condemnable. Definitely, action will be taken against him. In a clarification, the SDM said he didn’t sleep for the last two days. He probably doesn’t know that the farmers also don’t sleep 200 days a year.”
The use of such kind of words by an IAS officer for farmers is condemnable. Definitely, action will be taken against him: Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala on viral video purportedly showing Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha asking policemen to crack the heads of protesting farmers https://t.co/DbPZkXQRgS pic.twitter.com/x9Z4Y1RlgZ
— ANI (@ANI) August 29, 2021
Interestingly, the Haryana government tried playing hardball for some time, but eventually ended up giving in to the demands of the protestors. Several meetings between the protestors and district administration had ended in stalemate, with the farmers alleging that the government was trying to protect the SDM.
However, Manohar Lal Khattar knew that if he did not give in to the demands of the farmers, especially when they had the backing of Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) chief and deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala, his government stared at the prospect of collapsing. The BJP has 40 seats in the 90-member Haryana legislative embassy. As such, it is six MLAs short of a simple majority, which is why it requires the backing of the JJM and Chautala.
Khattar has proven that he is not a strong chief minister, while the recent case also shows the woes that coalition governments have to suffer throughout their tenure. Compromises and adjustments are the order of the day. Moving forward, Khattar has opened the floodgates of him being strongarmed by the BJP’s alliance partners in Haryana. Dushyant Chautala, meanwhile, will exercise even greater influence within the Haryana government after the recent sequence of events that have shown Khattar as a man who buckles under pressure.