Pune: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday said the Union government should handle the ongoing agitation against new farm laws with sensitivity, keeping in mind that majority of protesters are from Punjab, a border state.
The country has paid the price of upsetting Punjab in the past, he said, referring to former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination during Khalistan militancy. Speaking to reporters at Pimpri near here, Pawar, who has handled defense and agriculture portfolios at the Centre, was replying to a question about the farmers’ agitation on Delhi borders which has been going on for several months.
“I have been there (to the protest site) two-three times. The Union government’s stand does not seem rational,” he said. Participants in the agitation are from many states including Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, but most of them are from Punjab, Pawar noted. “My advise to the Union government is, do not let farmers of Punjab get upset, it is a border state. If we upset the farmers and people from border regions, then there will be other ramifications,” he said. “Our country has paid the price of upsetting Punjab, even (then prime minister) Indira Gandhi lost her life. On the other hand, farmers of Punjab, irrespective of whether they are Sikh or Hindu, have contributed to food supply,” the NCP chief added.
People living in border areas face several security-related issues which those living in states such as Maharashtra do not experience, he said. “Therefore, when a person who is making sacrifices is siting in protest with some demands for a long time, paying attention to him is what the nation requires,” Pawar added.