This article is second part of the two-part story based on the on-ground reportage by Dr. Swati Shukla on the Kisan Andolan at Delhi Border. The first part can be read here.
Social Movements are messy. They do not always follow the trajectory that we want them to be and they don’t have to. If movements are a learning space for protesters, it is also a learning space for movement leaders and leaders of the country. If it tests the resolve of those who left their home to demand the repeal of laws it also makes a leader confess on national TV of their role in riots.
Farmer tractor rally and govt attempt of Sabotage
My last report ended with the hope of citizens reclaiming the republic in its truest sense, which it was in many sense and it was quite a historic event too. While the day started upbeat and hopeful the red fort incident took away some sheen of the day that was indeed beautiful and had showcased the beauty of the working population of the country. We hopped onto the tractors and trolleys and went along with the farmers to show what the true republic parade is!
We witnessed the event as well as police inaction on the site of flag hoisting. Delhi police, known for waging dandas for no reason is standing and watching this show was the first evidence that the state was complicit in the act. Police got into action as soon as Deep Sidhu the perpetrator of the act fled from the scene. It was very quickly exposed that the hoisting of Nishan Sahib flag along with farmers flag by some people who were led to Red fort was a govt conspiracy to malign the movement. Those who were part of it accepted it on camera. There are still no arrests of those people but more than a 100 farmers who had gone for the protests are missing since 26th January.
The government of 31% barking about 0.1 percent misled protesters
Kisan parade not only happened in Delhi, it happened in other States, Zilas and Districts as well. But the Godi Media on Government Payroll did not cover the Kisan Parade anywhere and only started showing the red for incident as if that is all that happened all day. This was followed by FIRs on the Samyukt Kisan Morcha leaders including Darshan Pal, Yogendra Yadav and Rakesh Tikait.
Amid this tension, perhaps Rakesh Tikait realised that either he can be with farmers or with the Hindu vote holding BJP and its vigilante elements. It is then that the tears flowed and the emotional appeal turned the tables and brought out hordes of farmers in one night, with the Ghazipur border swelled up with farmers chanting slogans of Modi Murdabad, kisan zindabad, which continues even today.
Upon seeing its support base of ‘Kattar Hindu’ of Western UP slipping way, BJP dialled up the false narrative with Godi media saying that farmers are afraid and are returning to their homes. Again this was proven wrong by photos and videos of the groundswell that emerged from Tikait’s appeal and the constant vilification of the farmers.
Attack and arrests of Journalists
BJP and its Modi magic is all about invisiblising the visible, ignoring the obvious and amplifying its minor rhetoric through its lapdog media and IT cell. But the curtain has fallen. Now it is a naked display of power and they are not pretending anymore.
On 30th january, Journalist Mandeep Punia who has been dedicatedly following the farmers protests and has worked with several news websites and currently working for the Caravan was picked up by police at Singhu border protest site while he was reporting. Another journalist Dharmveer who works for newsindiaonline was also arrested. While Dharamveer was released the next day Mandeep was slapped with charges of hitting a police officer. He got bail recently after lot of noise was raised about his arrest. Mandeep had shared videos and photos of the RSS/BJP men involved in stone pelting and hurling petrol bombs at the tents at Singhu border. Mandeep also had footage of Police brutally assaulting a police a Sikh man along with civil dressed men. This exposes the police-RSS nexus very clearly. Mandeep’s arrest also gives a message to other journalists that they should fall in line like Godi media or be ready for a similar fate.
Our team along with 2 other media teams near Tikri border also had an incident where we were threatened by local RSS/BJP vigilante elements to stop reporting about the farmer protests, and otherwise ‘something’ might happen to us. One of those men was waving a pistol at one of the journalists. Luckily the neighbours whisked him away and the situation calmed down but it gave us first hand glimpse of the level of nationalistic goondaism.
Attempts to cage and isolate the Protests
Going and coming to each border is already a struggle with police stopping entry to the roads. Now they have also blocked the smaller roads leading to the protest sites. 4 days ago when we left Singhu border we walked 5 kms to get an auto, on our way we asked for route, the man said – There is no vehicle you have to walk all the way to Narela (next colony). The area is mostly empty and industrial area. Then he told us, ‘all these sites will be removed today.. I have inside information.. I work at agriculture ministry.’ We turned back, shaked our heads and said to each other …No way, the police is no match to these farmers strength and resolve.
A few nights ago we got visuals of iron nails, police with Iron batons, concrete boulders and concrete walls being put up on all three borders. So much is going on. We happen to be there to see many of them first hand, but like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan the dirt should be hidden away… likewise the ugliness of the state apparatus and police should be hidden away.
Despite all this farmers resolve is unwavering and though they are hurt and disheartened at the level the govt has fallen they have only one thing to say- Mar jayenge lekin, Kanoon wapis kiye bagair nahi jayenge (We will die but we won’t return unless these three black laws are taken back).