The brutal assault on a Punjab BJP legislator by farm protestors has not only raised questions over the law-and-order machinery but is also threatening to blow up into a major political issue ahead of the next year’s Assembly polls in the State.
The BJPs legislator from Abohar, Arun Narang, was attacked by a mob in Malout town on Sunday when he had gone there to address a press conference. The legislator was stripped and thrashed by a mob raising slogans against the farm laws in presence of a large number of policemen. Video footage of the incident revealed that the cops did not act pro-actively to prevent the assault on the legislators.
This was not the first time that supporters of farmer groups had prevented the BJP leaders from addressing a press conference or attend an event but the brutal assault was unprecedented and evoked fierce criticism. The Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, stung by the criticism issued an order to the police department seeking strict security for the BJP leaders and enhanced vigil at locations where the party held its events.
On Tuesday, heavy police barricading was carried out in Jalandhar at a hotel where former minister and BJP leader Madam Mohan Mittal was to address a press meet. The continued attacks on the BJP leaders over the farm law by supporters of the farmer groups have not only raised issues over the capability of the police to take preventive steps but also fears that such attacks could have polarising impact on the State politics.
‘‘A one-off incident, you can excuse the State machinery but not repeated violent attacks. If this goes unchecked, it would result in a polarised atmosphere which could eventually harm the Congress government itself,’’ said a leader.
Capt Amarinder Singh government had registered a huge win in 2017 Assembly polls getting votes from different castes and communities. ‘‘A polarised atmosphere does not augur well for the Congress. It came to power with even a sizeable section of Hindus voting for it,’’ a leader admitted, adding that attacks on the BJP leaders can eventually lend a communal colour to the incidents and harm the ruling Congress’s fortunes only.
The BJP on its part has gone on offensive over these incidents. It has even called on the Governor seeking President’s rule in the State. Punjab BJP General Secretary Subhash Sharma termed the action of the government as a mere lip service. ‘‘The Captain-led government is provoking violence by giving free hand to goons for last six months. He didn’t take any action on the police officers so far who have been named during these incidents of attack,’’ said Sharma. He said it was a complete failure of law and order in the State and hence the State unit of BJP demanded the President’s rule in Punjab.