Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday said the BJP-ruled Centre was acting like Punjab was not part of India.

Condemning the use of water cannons and tear gas shells by the Haryana police to disperse protesting Punjab farmers headed to Delhi as they tried to break through barricades in Ambala, Badal said the Bharatiya Janata Party governments at the Centre and Haryana were treating farmers as one treats enemies.

He said the water cannon would not douse flames of democratic protest against injustice. Badal said the Narendra Modi government ‘is treating Punjab as if it were not a part of the country’. “Are we not a part of India? Are farmers, traders and other common Punjabis not Indians?” he asked.

Referring to the growing repressiveness and trends in the country in recent times, the SAD chief Badal said the country was being ruled like a dictatorship.

Addressing a press conference here (Amritsar) this afternoon,the Akali leader said that the Center was inflicting the “second economic blockade on Punjab out of sheer vendetta against Punjab farmers , and that will hurt every Punjabi, be he a trader, a businessman, a farmer or an employee.”

Badal minced no words in putting the blame squarely on the BJP governments at the Center and in Haryana, saying that the Chief Minister Monohar Lal Khattar had acted under instructions of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deal with the farmers exactly as one would deal with an enemy of the nation.

The Akali leader also criticised the Punjab CM “for abandoning the farmers in their hour of need”, he said, “ As farmers cause is a national cause, both Captain Amaridner Singh and Khattar should have joined the farmers instead of either sitting at home engaged in other pursuits or simply blocking the farmers’ “fair, just and constitutional struggle.”