Remarks by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Meenakshi Lekhi on farm protests outside the Parliament on Thursday have prompted backlash online. She reportedly said the protestors were “not farmers, they are hooligans.”
As per ANI which quoted Lekhi, the recently appointed Minister of State for External Affairs, was referring to the alleged attack on a journalist covering the protests in the heart of the national capital, where farmers demanding a repeal of three new and controversial farm laws passed by the centre gathered today.
“They are not farmers, they are hooligans… These are criminal acts. What happened on January 26 was also shameful criminal activities,” Lekhi reportedly said. See below:
They are not farmers, they are hooligans… These are criminal acts. What happened on January 26 was also shameful criminals activities. Opposition promoted such activities: Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi on alleged attack on a media person at 'Farmers' Parliament' today pic.twitter.com/72OARBh1n0
— ANI (@ANI) July 22, 2021
Instances of chaos had been reported on January 26 this year, when a group of protestors broke away from the marching route and stormed the Red Fort.
As per some reports and videos doing the rounds online, a cameraman for News18 named Nagendra has allegedly been injured during the farmers’ protest in Delhi on July 22.
The ‘attack’ has invited strong criticism from members of the ruling party, with BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeting, “There is little doubt that this protest is not what it portrays to be.”
During a press conference today, my comment was sought on the Red Fort violence on January 26 and the attack on a media person (at Farmers' Parliament today). In response, I said only hooligans, not farmers can indulge in such activities: Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi pic.twitter.com/MqyI4v8j3X
— ANI (@ANI) July 22, 2021
After Meenakshi Lekhi On Farm Protests, Chief Tikait Responds
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, who is leading the coalition of protestors, responded to Lekhi’s remarks on the agitation saying, “Hooligans are the ones who have nothing. It is wrong to make such remarks for farmers. We are farmers, not hooligans. Farmers are ‘anndatas’ of the land.”
The farmers today were joined by Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, during their gathering near the Parliament premises.
State authorities that have allowed for the Kisan Sansad to convene between July 22 and August 9 have done so with COVID-19 protocol restrictions. Only a limit of 206 farmers per day have been given permission to collect for the ‘Farmers Parliament.’