A top government official in Haryana has been caught on video asking policemen to act with impunity against protesting farmers. The video was shared on Twitter by BJP leader Varun Gandhi on Saturday, hours after nearly a dozen people were injured in police lathi-charge on a group of farmers who had stopped traffic on a highway. The group was heading towards Haryana's Karnal to protest against a BJP meeting, where Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, state BJP chief Om Prakash Dhankar and other senior leaders of the ruling party were in attendance.
Karnal's Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Ayush Sinha is heard asking a group of policemen to ensure the protesting farmers do not cross a certain barricade, even if it means "cracking their heads."
"Just pick up your lathi and hit them hard... It's very clear, there is no need for any instruction, just thrash them hard. If I see a single protester here, I want to see his head smashed, crack their heads," Sinha is heard saying in the over-minute long video.
He wraps up by asking the cops if they have "any doubt", who respond by shouting "no sir."
Following the police action in Karnal, farmers in other districts of Haryana had also blocked highways, leading to huge traffic jams.
Sinha told news agency ANI that he was only asking the cops to "use force proportionately" in wake of the "stone-pelting (that) had started at many places."
The video evoked strong criticism against the official on social media, with Gandhi tweeting : "I hope this video is edited and the DM did not say this... Otherwise, this is unacceptable in democratic India to do to our own citizens."
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer groups seeking the repeal of three farm laws passed by the Centre last year, condemned the "brutal" police action.