As the Opposition stepped up attacks over a Haryana IAS officer allegedly ordering police to "break the heads" of protesting farmers, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said 'strictness was needed' to maintain law and order. Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha, a 2018-batch IAS officer, was caught on camera issuing the orders during the farmers' protest.

"Officer's choice of words was wrong. Administration will look into the matter. He shouldn't have spoken those words, but strictness was needed to maintain law and order," Khattar said, reports ANI.

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In the viral video clip, the IAS officer is purportedly saying,  “No matter what happens, nobody will cross this barricade...Let me make it clear, break the heads of all those who try to cross. I am the duty magistrate, and I’m giving you these instructions in writing. Hit them with your cane straightaway. Any doubt? Will you hit them? Will you let them cross this barricade? There is no doubt, no confusion. We won’t let them breach this barricade. We have enough force backing us up.”

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Coming out in support of Sinha, his boss District Magistrate of Karnal Nishant Yadav said, "Some words shouldn't have been used. As head of Karnal administration, I express my regret. But SDM, on duty, is a sincere officer. He used some words in the heat of the moment, he shouldn't have. But his intention wasn't wrong."

Soon after the "break the heads" clip went viral, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said that an IAS officer using such language is condemnable. He added that the government would definitely take action.

The Opposition leaders also came down heavily on the SDM. "The brutal lathi charge on farmers by the Haryana Police at Gharonda, in Karnal is absolutely unwarranted. Despite the peaceful protest by farmers, the police launched a lathi charge on them resulting into many farmers getting injured," NCP leader Sharad Pawar tweeted.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the state's Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu also condemned the police action.

TMC MP Mohua Moitra said the officer should be named and shamed. "Remember Nazi guards at Holocaust camps also claimed they were doing 'duty'," she said on Twitter.

Farmers' NGO Bharat Krishak Samaj chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar urged the Supreme Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court to take up the case suo motu and dismissed him from the service. "To, Punjab and Haryana High Court. Supreme Court of India. Please take suo moto action," he said on Twitter, sharing the video of Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha.