Condemning today’s violence by a group of miscreants at Singhu on the DelhiHaryana border, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh urged the Centre to conduct a thorough probe to identify these “so-called locals” who had reportedly broken through tight security cordons to attack protesting farmers there.

“Were they really locals?” asked the Punjab CM, seeking a proper investigation to identify such trouble-makers and ascertain where they came from. “I can’t believe that the local people could have turned against the farmers like this. Miscreants might have been brought from other places by vested interests to foment trouble,” Capt Amarinder said, adding that locals calling the farmers “traitors” was not something he could believe to be true.

Calling for an immediate end to the vilification campaign launched against farmers in the wake of the Red Fort violence on 26 January, Capt Amarinder warned that maligning the farmers in this manner could cause the morale of the armed forces — 20 per cent of which is from Punjab — to go down.

Spreading false information against farmers might create divisions, which could cause problems for Punjab, he further warned, urging the media to cover the situation properly and sensitively. “What is happening and what happened at Singhu today is what Pakistan wants,” said the CM, pointing out that he had been warning for a long time that Pakistan will try to exploit the unrest over the farm laws to disturb Punjab’s peace.

That was what he had discussed with Union home minister Amit Shah also during their meeting over which a lot of noise was raised, the CM said, adding that he had told the HM that drones were coming from Pakistan with weapons, drugs etc, and that while many of them had been caught in Punjab some might have passed through. The central agencies should investigate into possible Pakistan role in the recent disturbances and violence during the farmers’ agitation, he said.

The CM advised the farmers, who have been protesting against the Narendra Modi-led central government’s controversial farm laws at Delhi’s borders for over two months, as well as the Centre to continue engaging in dialogue to resolve the crisis. Pointing out that Punjab had seen bad times during its terrorism days, he said any further disturbance would not be desirable.

Capt Amarinder also came down heavily against those calling the farmers names. “People have different ideologies but you can’t brand them Leftists, Maoists, Naxals and Khalistanis in this manner,” he said. Reacting to allegations that he was behind the farmers’ agitation, the CM said the “tragic“ thing was that the “BJP is indulging in all this without trying to understand why farmers are angry, why they don’t want the laws.”