Republic Day violence 'unfortunate', but it won't end farmers movement: Kejriwal

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New Delhi, Jan 28 (PTI) The violence on Republic Day was “unfortunate”, but it would not end the farmers' movement against the Centre’s new agriculture laws, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday.

He said “strictest punishment” must be given to those responsible for the violence.

Addressing the ninth National Council meeting of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Kejriwal said the farmers' protest against the farm laws is a battle of existence for them.

“The violence on Republic Day was unfortunate and whoever is responsible for it must be given strictest punishment,” he said.

“But the violence will not lead to the end of the farmers movement, the issues still remain so the movement cannot end. We have to peacefully extend our support to the protesting farmers,” he said.

The chief minister asserted that whoever is responsible for Tuesday’s violence should be punished.

“Whoever is responsible for the turn of events, and I am not referring to the ones against whom police have registered fake cases, deserves to be punished. Whoever is responsible, whichever party is responsible, should be acted against.

'A nation where farmers are unhappy can never prosper. We all have to support them in our states, and our support should be non-violent. Whenever you do that, leave your party caps and flags at your homes. The support should be non-political, and you should support them as a common man,” he underlined.

The AAP's national convenor also claimed that farmers of the country are in distress and that they have been deceived by all parties in the last 70 years.

'They were promised loan waivers that did not happen… they were promised jobs to their children that did not happen. Over 3.5 lakh farmers have committed suicide in the last 25 years. Now, these three bills will snatch their livelihood, that is farming, and give it to the corporates,' he said.

'For the farmers, it is a question of existence. How will the farmers feed their families if farming is taken away from them? If they do not sit in the biting cold, they would not be able to retain their livelihoods,' Kejriwal added.

Addressing a press conference, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia called the violence during the farmers tractor rally part of a 'conspiracy'.

'The violence has been done under a conspiracy to discredit the farmers movement, and the real culprits of this violence are not being acted upon. The three agriculture laws must be repealed,' he said.

The ruling AAP in Delhi has strongly come out in favour of the farmers protesting against the agri-marketing laws.

The party had, in a statement on Tuesday, said that the Centre allowed the situation to deteriorate. It had said the violence “has certainly weakened the movement”, which was peaceful and disciplined over the last two months.

Tens of thousands of farmers broke barriers to storm the national capital on Republic Day, their tractor parade to highlight their demands dissolving into unprecedented scenes of anarchy as they fought with police, overturned vehicles and delivered a national insult hoisting a religious flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort, a privilege reserved for India's tricolour.

PTI UZM SRY