MK Gandhi was remembered across the board, on his death anniversary, January 30, but amid a flood of lies and half-truths in the Big Media, and clouding up truth about what happened in broad daylight on January 26, in capital Delhi.
Gandhi is linked with Truth and non-violence, cited as basic tenets of his life and work. But the day began with falsehood and half truths about Jan 26 incidents in Delhi and near Red Fort. Cases were launched against many in that connection. We shall review some of the issues involved from a historical point of view.
Ironically Gandhi is invoked by all and sundry in India, including those who supported his murder by Hindu zealots, and for sundry purposes. Gandhi was again the man in the news. He was mentioned by both sides in the course of the ongoing farmers’ agitation against farm laws, particularly around the January 26 violent incidents, wherein farmers’ organizations alleged it was a conspiracy by the ruling party and its government to disrupt and suppress their movement, rejecting the stories spread by the media.
In his ‘Mann Ki Baat’, Jan 31 , Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country witnessed many sad events during Republic Day this year, in an apparent reference to the violence that broke out during the farmers’ tractor rally, earlier this week. Citizens across the country were very pained to see the tricolour being dishonoured on January 26, Modi said. (PTI)
But his government, known for its lightning strikes within and outside India, did not pinpoint what happened at Red Fort and how, let alone nabbing the real culprits, who after all are not unknown terrorists:
“Actor Deep Sidhu and gangster Lakhan Sidhana have been named by the Delhi Police in an FIR for the violent clashes during the tractor parade in Delhi on January 26,” hindustantimes.com, reported
on jan 28, 2021 01:19 am. It added: A video of Sidhu directing the mob at Red Fort has been circulating on social media. He released video on Jan 26 Tuesday night saying he was involved in the flag-hoisting, but meant no disrespect. He also said that he alone could not have instigated thousands of protesters.
Meanwhile Siddhu himself admitted, said it was a symbolic protest, and reiterated that hoisting the Nishan Sahib flag was not meant to demean the national flag…(PTI, Zeenews, Jan 28.)
Instead of Sidhu, however, several farm leaders were framed up, and senior media persons including Rajdeep Sardesai were slapped with sedition cases alleging deliberate misreporting of various events, though Rajdeep corrected himself a few hours later.
Many were held, detained, cases were launched, but Sidhu went missing said another report, including one by news18.com, said to be of the Ambanis’. So many businessmen, white-collar criminals, like Mallyas and Choksis, went missing earlier. This is of another kind.
An agent provocateur?
Conspiracy theorist Subramanian Swamy floats a new theory, toes ‘liberals’ line to claim Red Fort siege was a PMO plot…this is the headline of a report in opindia.com, Jan 27,2021, about Jan 26 incidents blamed on the farmers. Swamy said the same in a TV interview too. The former report:
“According to Swamy’s tweet, the speculations stated that PMO acted as an agent provocateur in the Red Fort drama. However, Swamy acknowledged that the rumours could be fake.
Swamy is a knowledgeable BJP leader and he tweeted – not in a huff like journalist Rajdeep sardesai, but the next day Jan 27, 10am as above. Will there be a sedition case against him too? Time alone will tell. He wanted to check out, but echoed so many, including many farmers’ organizations, who named and shared photos of Deep Sidhu of BJP. Deep had given an interview to Barkha Dutt where he refused to condemn Khalistani leader Bhindranwale. (opindia.com, Jan 27, 2021.)
Referring to the culprit, the same web magazine reported the previous day, jan 26:
“ Deep Sidhu is a Khalistani supporter who has been involved in the current protests against the newly passed farm laws from the very beginning. For a time, he even became popular with the media but ruined his chances after he gave an interview to Barkha Dutt ( 28 November 2020), where he refused to condemn Khalistani terrorist Bhindranwale.”
Many had alleged Deep Sidhu has been a BJP hand and his photos with PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were widely circulated.
The religious flag was allowed to stay there on Red Fort for hours
Analysing the events , Avinash Mohananey , a former director general of police, Sikkim, who had also worked in the Intelligence Bureau for many years, wrote in thewire.in 30/Jan/2021:
“The corporate-controlled media came in full swing, peddling the government’s narrative to discredit the farmers and wean away the general sympathy of the population in their favour. This sympathy had unnerved the government and prevented it from exercising the hard option of cracking down on the protests. The government should remember that the truth can only be masked for a while by a compliant media, but no one can make it disappear. And it did come out in a matter of hours on social media, ”
“ Deep Sidhu is neither part of the Morcha nor represents any of the 40 farmer organisations that are engaged in a dialogue with the Government of India. In fact, he was barred from using the Morcha’s stage in early December, amidst allegations of him espousing the Khalistani cause. Photographs of Sidhu with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and BJP MP Sunny Deol have also gone viral, indicating his possible connections with the party.
“ The way Deep Sidhu and his supporters reached Red Fort, unobstructed at any place by the police, and the way they controlled the events there raises several questions. Why was no preventive action taken against him, when a day before the parade, he announced his intention to go to the Red Fort? Was it only an intelligence failure or was there something more at play? How was he allowed entry into Delhi much before the agreed-upon time, with the barriers conveniently removed? How did he deviate from the route earmarked for the tractor rally without being questioned en route by any policeman? How did he freely access every part of the fort without being stopped? It is worthwhile to mention that the fort is a well-guarded and protected monument, more so on Republic Day.
“ However, the most surprising aspect was that the religious flag was allowed to stay there for hours, despite the crowd thinning out and the presence of a large police force.
“Why was the internet shut down in some areas, so that people were not able to witness the tractor parade live and the only visuals available were of the fort with the flag?
“Having served in the police, I can say with confidence that the priority of any police officer would be to quickly clear the area of protesters and remove the religious flag to restore the grace of the monument.
“Was it that the police were waiting for instructions on when to remove it? It is not out of place to mention that the Delhi police headquarters is only about three km away from the fort.
Inaction on the part of the Delhi police only strengthens the allegations of conspiracy.
“The visuals at Red Fort perfectly suited the narrative that this government has tried to push from the beginning: That the farmer’s movement was in the hands of “Khalistani elements”, in an effort to limit the discontent to just one state, Punjab.”
This was how Gandhi was remembered this year amid falsehood and half-truths.
The Home Minister, eulogized as the Sardar Patel, did not come out to nab the real culprits, nor he came out with truth.
Is it a Chauri Chaura moment?
Gandhi’s other theory of non-violence was among the issues discussed on this occasion. Is it a Chauri Chaura moment, it was asked by both sides.
On February 5, 1922, in Chauri Chaura, the famous UP town near Gorakhpur, present UP Chief Minister Adityanath’s home town, police fired and killed several volunteers engaged in non-co-operation movement. Enraged masses raided the local police station and set it on fire, in which at least 22 policemen were killed. Marial law was imposed by the British rulers and hundreds were arrested.
Regretting violence in the movement launched with non-violence as its philosophy, and taking moral responsibility for the events, Gandhi fasted for five days and on Feb 12 withdrew the movement itself.
The farmers’ leaders lost their moral high ground, it is argued, and should emulate Gandhi, and end the agitation. With that plea, a couple of farmers’ organizations withdrew from the movement, but others ascribed that they came under the influence of the ruling forces.
Obviously, it is an alibi, there was no Chauri chaura, where policemen were locked in and died. Here police were free, not helpless, and had a field day: no policemen were killed. There were injured persons, but on both sides.
It was not a mob here that was responsible. One well-known person, Sidhu, was found and photographed in the incident. And he admitted his role, and claimed credit.
Thus it was no Chauri chaura, but something else. The reference to Gandhi’s theory of non-violence is also not relevant here. Rather it is misleading. It needs a separate and detailed analysis.
MA Krishna is a media person