CHANDIGARH: Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar on Monday said no orders were given to lathi-charge protesting farmers in Kurukshetra, differing with the version of the recent incident given by ally Jannayak Janta Party.
But the CM also defended the use of force in self-defence and even questioned what is meant by a "lathi-charge", prompting a Congress rejoinder.
Khattar also talked about batons being sometimes banged on the ground by police to disperse people.
"It is considered a lathi-charge only when such an order is given," he told reporters on the sidelines of a party event here.
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and other organisations had said farmers protesting against three agri-marketing ordinances "later presented before Parliament as bills" were lathi-charged at Pipli in Kurukshetra district on September 10.
State home minister Anil Vij had denied that force was used to disperse the farmers, but senior JJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said the incident will be investigated.
His brother Digvijay Chautala even apologised it.
Despite some JJP MLAs supporting protests against the farm bills, the party has made it clear that its coalition with the BJP in the state remains intact.
When asked if the government will get the Pipli lathi-charge incident investigated, Khattar said, "There are some things which do not have a clear answer. I think first we will have to discuss what a lathi-charge is."
He said if any police officer feels there is deterioration in the situation on the ground, he has the magisterial powers to order a lathi-charge.
"But no such orders were given here," he asserted.
Answering another question, he said a policeman can be seen in a video clip trying to stop two tractors attempting to cross police barricades in Pipli.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala hit out at Khattar over his remarks.
"First farmers are brutally beaten, now the chief minister is trying to give an explanation on what a lathi-charge means".
He also questioned the JJP's "silence", alleging that for that party hanging on to power is more important than concern towards farmers.
Defending the three farm bills, Khattar said a farmer will now have the option to sell his produce even outside the mandis.
"And if he feels he is not getting the right price outside, he can sell his crop in the mandi, where the MSP is guaranteed," the chief minister said.
Farmer bodies campaigning against the bills passed in Parliament claim they are a step towards dismantling the minimum support price system.
Hitting out at the opposition, Khattar said, "They are criticising these reforms for the sake of criticism. Congress is saying the government should give a guarantee on MSP, but that is already there. Government makes purchases at MSP only."