CHANDIGARH: A BJP MLA in Punjab was allegedly thrashed and his clothes torn by a group of farmers at Malout in Muktsar district on Saturday, police said.
BJP leaders have been facing the ire of farmers for the last several months in the state.
Agitating farmers have been opposing the programmes of the saffron party leaders in Punjab over the farm laws issue.
When Abohar legislator Arun Narang reached Malout on Saturday along with local leaders to address a press conference, they were surrounded by a group of protesting farmers and black ink was thrown at them and at their vehicles, officials said.
Some police personnel took the MLA and local leaders to a shop.
But later when they came out, the protesters allegedly thrashed Narang and tore his clothes, police said.
The policemen escorting Narang faced a tough time in protecting him from the protesters.
The legislator was later escorted to a safe place by the police, officials said.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (Malout) Jaspal Singh said the protesters were adamant that they would not allow the BJP legislators to hold the press conference.
A video has surfaced on social media, purportedly showing the MLA in torn clothes being shifted to a safer place by the police.
The Muktsar Police on Saturday night registered a case against seven named people and 200-250 unidentified people on the charges of attempt to murder, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation and rioting among others.
Narang told PTI that he was "punched" by some people.
"I was punched a lot and my clothes were also torn off," he alleged.
The BJP legislator said he had gone to Malout to address a press conference but the protesters did not allow it.
They got violent and surrounded him, the MLA claimed.
Asked whether he has lodged a complaint in this matter, Narang said he will talk to the party leadership over this issue.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh strongly condemned the alleged attack on Narang and also warned of strict action against anyone trying to disturb peace in the state.
He urged the farmers not to indulge in such acts of violence, and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urgently resolve the crisis triggered by the passage of farm laws in Parliament last year to prevent the situation from escalating.
The chief minister directed the police chief to take strict action against the perpetrators of the incident, who also clashed with the police personnel trying to rescue the legislator.
Superintendent of Police (Headquarters), Faridkot, was injured while trying to save and evacuate the MLA.
He suffered a cane blow on his head, causing his turban to fall off.
He was admitted in Civil Hospital, Malout, the CM said in a statement.
The DGP said a criminal case will be registered against the suspects and statements of local BJP leaders were being recorded.
Amarinder Singh said that protest is the democratic right of the farmers but violence of any sort will not be tolerated.
Reacting to Punjab BJP leaders' demand for his resignation, he said instead of trying to take political mileage from the incident, they should put pressure on their central leadership to withdraw the contentious farm laws.
Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana KP Singh also strongly condemned the alleged attack on Narang.
"It is not only unacceptable, but highly condemnable that an elected representative of the people is mercilessly thrashed in full public view," he said.
Darshan Pal, the leader of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmers' union spearheading the agitation against the central agri laws, said, "Today, farmers protested against BJP MLA from Abohar.
Under adverse circumstances, it turned violent and the MLA was physically assaulted.
"It is a matter of regret that an elected representative was treated this way. We do not encourage such behaviour. We strongly condemn this act," he said in a statement.
Pal also said the Samyukta Kisan Morcha appeals to all protesters to remain peaceful and disciplined.
The ruling Congress in Punjab, the BJP, as well as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) condemned the incident.
Such "unlawful behaviour" has no place in a democracy and the farmers' protest will be weakened by these incidents, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said.
BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh slammed the Amarinder Singh-led government over the incident and claimed that it has "exposed the complete collapse of law and order in the state".
Describing the incident as a "murderous attack" on Narang, he accused the ruling Congress of engineering it.
Amarinder Singh was "instigating such attacks in order to stifle the voice of the BJP", Chugh alleged and demanded that the chief minister resign.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal termed as "deplorable" the "violent attack" on Narang and demanded an impartial inquiry to fix the responsibility for the "failure" of the police in protecting the dignity of an elected representative.
He appealed to everyone to exercise restraint to ensure that peace and communal harmony in the state was not disturbed.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late November at Delhi borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the farm laws.