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Hold talks, don't think of using force against farmers: Sharad Pawar

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Mumbai, Jan 26: NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday called the violence during a tractor parade by farmers in Delhi as an indefensible act, but said one also cannot ignore reasons that led to the chaotic situation in the national capital as he warned against use of force on protesters.

Sharad Pawar

The former Union Agriculture Minister asked the Centre to hold a dialogue with cultivators seeking scrapping of the new agri-marketing laws giving up its "extreme position" on the issue.

He wondered "what was the difficulty" in Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier holding talks with the farmers protesting against the new agri laws near Delhi for more than two months now.

A tractor march meant to highlight farmers'' demands dissolved into anarchy on the streets of the national capital, as hordes of rampaging protesters broke through barriers, fought with police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the rampart of Red Fort, a privilege reserved for the tricolour.

Interacting with media persons here, Pawar said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against protesters and asked the Modi government to not commit that sin.

The farmers organised tractor rally. It was expected of the Centre and those responsible for law and order then to deal with them sensibly. But it did not happen is obvious, Pawar alleged.

Pawar said a way out should have been found over the farmers demands without hurting the protesters who have been agitating for two months.

Samyukt Kisan Morcha calls off tractor parade by farmers, appeals participants to return to protest sitesSamyukt Kisan Morcha calls off tractor parade by farmers, appeals participants to return to protest sites

The NCP leader said that according to the information he received, strict conditions were imposed on the protesters before they took out the tractor rally.

It was required to deal with the protesters keeping in mind their 50-60 days agitation and their patience. But a different view was held (by the authorities) and hence, the situation has deteriorated.

None can defend what is happening there today. But we also cannot ignore why it is happening, Pawar said.

Pawar said it was the responsibility of the Centre to note why the farmers who were protesting peacefully till now turned angry and added the government should have handled the agitators accordingly.

But it did not happen and the situation deteriorated, Pawar said.

It is my expectation that the Centre shows prudence and gives up its extreme position on the issue while holding dialogue with these (farmers) bodies.

It should hold a dialogue. It should think of their demands seriously and take a suitable decision, Pawar said.

He said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against the agitators.

If this is not done (dialogue is not held) and if we (the Centre) try to use force, then Punjab -- which was restless once upon a time, but has recovered -- may head towards restlessness and the Modi government should not commit that sin, Pawar added.

Most of the farmers agitating against the new agri laws outside Delhi are from Punjab.

Referring to the farmers protest in Mumbai on Monday, Pawar said the Maharashtra government handled the situation with patience and added the Centre, too, should have approached the demonstrations near Delhi borders in a similar manner.

But if it (the Centre) thinks the issue can be resolved using force, then I think that thinking is wrong, the NCP patriarch added.

The Rajya Sabha MP said he will discuss the situation with other opposition leaders ahead of Parliament session, which is beginning later this week, as what happened in Delhi cannot be ignored.

The veteran leader, to a question, said it was required of the prime minister earlier to take note of the situation and hold talks with the protesting farmers.

What was the difficulty in holding a dialogue with those protesting near Delhi? he asked.

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