The Farmers’ protest has been going on for quite some time now and things have surely changed. The whole country witnessed a rollercoaster of emotions during this period. First, the farmers protested very peacefully for two months. They faced the harsh winter of North India to fight for what they felt is right.
Meanwhile, the protestors requested the central government’s permission to carry out a ‘peaceful’ tractor rally in the national capital on the 26th of January and obtained it as well. However, the farmers’ tractor rally which Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, activist Yogendra Yadav and other senior farmer leaders promised to be peaceful, turned violent. Protestors broke police barricades and changed their destination from Kharkhoda Toll Plaza to the iconic Red Fort.
The Delhi Police had little to no time to react as the deployment of personnel in that area was less. When the mob finally reached the Red Fort, it broke in and started chanting rather communal slogans, some of which supported a separatist movement dating back to the 1980s. They ransacked the insides of the fort with lathis, stones, swords, bricks and of course, tractors. The mob then proceeded towards the podium, from where the Prime Minister of India delivers a speech every Independence Day.
When the cops called for backup and went towards the fort, protestors started to attack them with the weapons they possessed. Some people even tried to crush the cops under their tractors. The cops had to flee the violent mob until further backup came. None of the cops retaliated with gunfire, showing maximum restraint. Women personnel were allegedly man-handled by the mob.
The protestors now had control of one of the most important monuments in the country. A protestor (now arrested) desecrated the Tricolor in the main podium and unfurled the Kesari flag along with the Nishan Sahib while the others continued shouting slogans.
After 3 to 4 hours of riots, arson and destruction, the police managed to control the violent mob and started to see the videos that were recorded. They saw cops being thrown from the walls of the Red Fort; some cops were thrashed badly by the protestors. A total of 300 cops were found injured in the first half of the day itself, with more to be counted. The Indian Embassy in Rome was desecrated, and Khalistan flags were raised.
In all this, the common man was left thinking why the government, which was elected by a landslide victory, was still silent on this?
The opposition and farmers also alleged that a farmer died after the police shot him. Everyone accused the police until they released a CCTV footage showing that the young farmer had died because his tractor overturned while he was trying to barge inside the inner circle of the Parliament.
Almost two weeks and major political blame games later, something else caught the eye of netizens which again became a conspiracy. Famous personalities like Rihanna and Greta Thunberg also commented on this issue. Some glorified their stance, some defamed it. Amidst this, Greta shared a document or as many would say, a toolkit, on her Twitter handle.
It was deleted later, but as anyone would have guessed, it was too late as it had already gone viral on social media. Among some ‘anti-India’ objectives were points like “destroying the yoga and chai image of India” and sparking up the Khalistan movement. It named many Indian people who are supposed to encourage this through their influence on a particular sect of audience. No wonder, there was an uproar.
While all this was going on, we as citizens needed to ask ourselves certain questions and demand unbiased, uninfluenced answers.
After all the violence and online war, is this protest really about the farmers? If so, why was the government asked to release CAA rioters? Why only a section of farmers has grievances against these reforms? If these reforms are so harmful, why have all political parties and some unions (BKU), at one time or the other, requested/promised these reforms, and why are they backing out now?
These questions remain unanswered by the so-called “intellectuals”.
The first question that the farmers’ unions must answer is that is this “protest” still legitimate? After all, the promise to keep it peaceful failed miserably. More than 500 cops were injured in the clashes that took place on 26th January. Yet, many ministers, even from the Delhi government, went to meet the farmer leaders, and not the cops. The men in uniform were attacked by swords in broad daylight, yet the parties played their politics. Some even went on to say that it was a conspiracy by the government itself.
On the other hand, genuine farmers did actually rally peacefully and abide by the rules. The media played their part: they ignored the news and focused only on the violent aspect. In fact, some cops stopped a rally from Haryana before it reached Delhi’s borders. Most of them showed restraint, but there was still some violence on their part, while the protestors were actually peaceful.
However, this is an exception; for the larger part, people must now decide whether the entire farmers’ “protest” is about the farm laws or a gateway to a long-gone separatist movement.
Along the way, we need to realize that loyalty to the nation is above politics and religion. There is a very fine line between opposing a government and being an anti-national under the garb of a protest, and we need to sincerely decide which path we want to tread. While protesting is a constitutional right, the desecration of the National Flag for example is outright anti-national and unjustifiable. We must not support any international forces interfering in our country’s internal affairs.
As the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, once said, “Every citizen of India must remember that he is an Indian and he has every right in this country but with certain duties”. It is time all of us, including our farmers, remember that.
The views and opinions expressed in the above article belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official opinion, policy or position of Lokmaanya.