Union minister of state Meenakshi Lekhi said on Thursday took back her “hooligans not farmers” comment if it had hurt anyone even as she said her statement has been misinterpreted.
“My statement has been misinterpreted. Nonetheless, if my comments that are being linked with farmers have hurt anyone, then I take my words back,” Lekhi, who was recently inducted as a junior minister in the external affairs and culture departments, said.
“During a press conference today, my comment was sought on the Red Fort violence on January 26 and the attack on a media person (at Farmers’ Parliament today). In response, I said only hooligans, not farmers can indulge in such activities,” she was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Lekhi later put out a tweet on her statement in the matter.
Earlier in the day, Lekhi said, “They are not farmers, they are hooligans… These are criminal acts. What happened on January 26 was also shameful criminal activities. The Opposition promoted such activities.”
A journalist, named Nagendra, was reportedly attacked by a woman with a stick at the protest ground.
Soon after, there was outrage over the comments. Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait hit out at Lekhi said farmers are annadatas’ (providers) and to call them such names is inappropriate. “Hooligans are the ones who have nothing. It is wrong to make such remarks for farmers. We are farmers, not hooligans. Farmers are ‘anndatas’ of the land,” Tikait was quoted as saying.
The farmers protesting for months along the borders of Delhi against three Central laws began their ‘Farmer Parliament’ on Thursday at the Jantar Mantar.
Later in the evening, the Delhi Police said the first day of farmers’ protest at Jantar Mantar was peaceful. “In view of the Independence Day and ongoing Parliament session, we made necessary arrangements to keep the protest peaceful. We hope that we will get this support and coordination in future as well,” said Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal.