Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], December 19 (ANI): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday accused the central government of using "intimidatory tactics" against the "arhtiyas" supporting the agitating farmers and said it was indulging "vendetta politics".
According to an official release, the Chief Minister termed the income tax raids against some "arhtiyas" as an obvious pressure tactic to curb their democratic rights.
It said that 14 "arhtiyas" across Punjab received notices from the IT department, including Vijay Kalra (President, Punjab Arthiya Association), Pawan Kumar Goyal (President, Samana Mandi) and Jaswinder Singh Rana (Patiala district President).
"It is evident that having failed to persuade, mislead and divide the farmers into ending their prolonged protest, the central government is now trying to weaken their struggle by targeting the arhtiyas (middleman) who have been actively supporting the agitation since day one," he said.
He noted that IT raids were conducted at the premises of several big "arhtiyas" of Punjab within a span of just four days of issuing notices without waiting for responses to the notices.
"This is a clear debasement of the due process of law. Even the local police were not informed or taken into confidence, as is the normal procedure, and instead, the CRPF was used to provide security during the raids by the I-T teams," he added.
"What is this if not a clear case of vendetta politics by the Centre which is hell-bent on demolishing the farmers' protest by hook or by crook?" the Chief Minister asked.
Noting that this was not the first instance of misuse of a central agency by the central government Singh said, "these bullying actions of the government do not augur well for the world's largest democracy."
"Even the Supreme Court has upheld the peoples' right to protest peacefully. The central government's actions amount to gross violation of the apex court's directions and the spirit of the Constitution," he added.
The Chief Minister reiterated his appeal to the central government not to stand on ego but to start a meaningful dialogue with the farmers and other stakeholders. (ANI)