Long time back there was a Malayalam movie “Ningal Enna Communist aakki– You made me a Communist”. The happenings on 26th January and the callous attitude with which the Govt is treating the farmers for more than two months reminds that and I feel the Govt is going to make Khalistanis, Tamil chauvinists etc and demand for statehoods are likely to raise again.
I had been to Singhu border on 25th January 2021. I could see people visiting the site as a pilgrimage. Young, old, physically challenged, husband and wife carrying young children on both their shoulders and local people using it as an opportunity for their petty trade. Health care, Food from Langar, mobile charging and even shoe polishing was free. I saw Nihangs with their horses and swords, the warriors of the past but now with rusted swords. People were checked for their contents in bags by volunteers. There was certain discipline, enthusiasm, determination, care, above all humanity was visible. Community living, rich and poor, in precarious hygiene. Mud, water, waste, flies, indifferent attitude of the State Govt was visible. The locals were supporting the farmers with water, bathrooms, washing machine etc as they were helping their own families.
There were also many battalions of Police with different uniforms, different weapons and different vehicles used by Rapid Action Force.
I recall the college days as student leader. Managing hundred students was easy, five hundred was possible but when it crossed thousand unmanageable leading to violence and lathi charge. I wonder how, for more than 2 months, more than a lakh of farmers could keep their anger under control.
Such discipline rattled the people in power. The Home Minister, drawing from his experiences in Gujarat, probably anticipated people to turn violent. That didn’t happen. So they used the police. Routes were changed, a small group could reach Red Fort which is guarded by Police and Army without much difficulty. They could climb up as they did in Babri Masjid. Godi media said they hoisted Khalistani flag whereas it was a Sikh flag which is revered.
But it was not to be hoisted at Red fort.
Police prevented tractors in the accepted routes. On 26th I was in Shajahanpur. Tractor route was allowed from Shajahanpur to Manesar and back. People with Tractors from Rewari also joined. Ms. Medha Patkar was there at Shajahanpur not at Delhi but now a case has been filed against her for Red Fort incident.
Even there the Police blocked roads. Stopped the rally but leaders kept cool. Dr. Ashok Dhawale, President AIKS, Mrs. Mariam Dhawale, General Secretary AIDWA, Dr. Dinesh Abrol, Nation for farmers, Mr. K.K. Rajesh MP, Ms. Kavitha Srivastava, PUCL, MKSS leaders and Kissan from all over the country – Manipur, Nagaland to Kerala were there as representatives.
Police blocked roads including Delhi- Jaipur Highway to inconvenience people, to create anger among the citizens. But the farmers kept their cool. People were giving them water bottles at places. Langar provided food to anyone who wanted. At Delhi border, people were showering flowers. There was no intention of violence but the Govt encouraged Deep Sidhu and others to break the struggle. They could not succeed. The leaders have condemned the violence and disowned those who did it. But the culprits are not arrested. Instead, cases are filed against leaders who are leading a peaceful protest. What they tried in Ghazipur has boomeranged. Mr. Rakesh Tikait has turned UP into the real protest Zone. It’s bigger than Singhu border where Punjabis and Haryanis are more.
Now more people are reaching Singhu and Tikri. Shiromani Akali Dal has asked its followers to reach the protest venues and they are doing it. The numbers are swelling. The false propaganda by BJP is countered with real true incidents. Thank
The anti people Governments always use the Police for their ego satisfaction. We have seen it in Tamilnadu when the Jallikattu agitation came to an end. For no reason, people were beaten up. Just for ego satisfaction. At Tuticorin during the Sterlite agitation, without any provocation police pointed the guns and shot innocent people including 19 year old Smilin. In UP it is the order of the day. But this can’t bring end to the peaceful protest. Jallikattu Continues. Sterlite is closed. There are many other examples.
But Police and Army atrocities have led to movements like terrorist movements in Jammu & Kashmir, in Nagaland, in Manipur, in Assam, in Punjab and countries abroad. The problem does not end. The problem explodes.
Its time, the Govt gives up its ego. Stop foisting cases, negotiate and end the struggle. It has happened many times. Recently Kerala Govt withdrew its order on Social Media when people raised their voices. In 2006, the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram who went on TV saying he will arrest the SBI Union & Association leaders as they were on indefinite strike demanding improvement on pension, later got into an agreement and appeared in TV again and announced that the issue is settled. He still has grudge against Unions but he had to give up ego and settle the issue.
This same Govt had a better sense in 2017, when they withdrew the FRDI bill. Now the economy needs recovery. Reports coming are alarming. Agitations lead to economic losses. February, March is the time for business to flourish. Time for Bank credits to increase. So the Govt should act fast.
Parliament can do it easily. Please don’t make people say, You made me a Khalistani”.
Thomas Franco is former General Secretary of All India Bank Officers’ Confederation.