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 and the Republic Day parade was a historic one.
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 cover the Kisan Republic Day parade. It was beyond words! The tractors were greeted with chants of Jai Kisan and showered with flowers as they passed along the highways. The road from Singhu to Delhi Border entry is mostly industrial area and is lined with factories. Many workers had come out to see the parade. It was also the first time that they had a chance to see the Republic Day parade with their eyes.
We witnessed the event as well as police inaction at the Red Fort. Delhi police, known for waging dandas for no reason is standing and watching the hoisting of Nishan Saheb flag at one the mast near the Red Fort.
As opposed to the mainstream media narrative, the Indian national flag was not replaced by Nishan Saheb flag. The Indian national flag continued to remain hoisted on top of the Red Fort and wasn’t disturbed by protesters.
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 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.
Media and govt. attempts to Vilify the Movement by Associating it with Khalistanis
The Republic Day Kisan parade was a national event. It did not happen only in Delhi. It happened in Karnataka, Kerala, UP, MP Tamilnadu, not just in their capital cities but in Zilas and Districts as well.
But the Godi Media on Government Payroll did not cover the Kisan Parade anywhere and only started showing after the Red Fort incident. The parade started in most places from 8 AM to 10AM.But if you follow most media channels you will think that only thing that happened that day was Nishan Sahib flag on Red Fort.
Farmers are camped at Delhi borders for more than 2 months. Most mainstream media houses were sent the map of the parade well in advance. None of them covered that news. The Godi media only started showing the parade when some farmers tractors reach Red Fort and the Nishan Saheb flag was hoisted. So one can imagine where the loyalties of most media houses lie.
This was followed by FIRs on the Samyukt Kisan Morcha leaders including Darshan Pal, Yogendra Yadav and Rakesh Tikait.
This was also a turning point for the movement. Rakesh Tikait who was until now viewed as BJP agent in the movement felt betrayed when the Ghazipur farmers protest site where he was camped was surrounded by Delhi Police.
At this point, perhaps, Rakesh Tikait realised that either he can be with farmers or with the Hindu votes who are with BJP and its vigilante elements. It is then that the tears flowed. 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
Travel to Delhi borders is already a struggle with police stopping entry to the roads leading the protest sites. Now they have also blocked the smaller roads leading to the protest sites. 4 days ago when we left Singhu border we had to walk for 5 kms to get an auto. The area is mostly empty and industrial area.
We asked for route on our way out, a man said- There is no vehicle you have to walk all the way to Narela (next colony). 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 there are all attempts to hide the ugliness of the state apparatus and police.
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).