Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday said he would hold his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh responsible if farmers' gathering on the state's borders with Delhi leads to an aggravation of the Covid-19 situation in the state.
Khattar made the assertion while pointing out that the Haryana government had only recently decided to limit the number of people attending social gatherings like marriages, religious and political functions to contain the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in Haryana.
“In view of the rising coronavirus cases, we had decided to limit indoors gatherings to 100 and outdoor ones to 200 for all types of functions including family, political and religious ones,” Khattar told reporters in Hisar on the sidelines of an event," he said.
Referring to the Hisar event, he said, “Even today for this function here, we permitted only 200 people.”
With thousands of farmers from Punjab having reached Delhi borders forcing their way through Haryana on the call for protest against the three central farm laws, Khatar said he was surprised why Punjab government encouraged the movement of such big gatherings amid the pandemic.
“Who will be responsible if this disease has an impact here?” he asked, adding: “I will hold Punjab government responsible if the (Covid) situation (in Haryana) aggravates.”
Khattar, who has been engaged in a war of words with Amarinder Singh, reiterated that he had tried to talk to him on many occasions over the telephone on farmers' “Delhi Chalo” march, "but the latter is not accepting it now."
“And now when the record has been shown as to how many times I tried to speak to him, he (Amarinder) had no answer,” he added.
"Since this is a sponsored programme of Congress and Punjab government, they now want to escape from accepting things,” he said.
On Saturday, Khattar had alleged some political parties and organisations were sponsoring the farmers' stir against the Centre's farm laws.
Justifying why Haryana authorities initially stopped farmers from Punjab at inter-state borders, Khattar said, “We stopped them and told them no one will allow such big gatherings in Delhi, but they did not listen and went forcibly ahead.
"We said we will not use force. And I don't consider the use of water cannons and tear gas shells as the use of force,” he said, referring to their use by the Haryana police to stop Punjab farmers from entering Haryana.
Hitting out at Amarinder Singh, he said the Punjab CM did not use even appropriate language for him. “It does not behove a chief minister. At least the way he has behaved, I am not going to do that,” he added.
On thousands of farmers laying siege at Haryana's Sonipat border with Delhi, he said the Centre has already told farmers that it is ready to talk with them if they move to the ground designated for their protest in Burari in Delhi.
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij too urged farmers to shift to Burari ground in Delhi following the Centre’s assurance that it would talk to them.
“But their insistence on protesting at inter-state borders indicates their purpose is something else,” Vij said.