Attempt to vilify and intimidate the farmers movement will fail. The modus operandi of those guiding the north block is amply known to all who have followed their actions since 2002. First try to intimidate a protest followed by efforts to prolong it deliberately, then create disturbance among them by infiltrating anti social elements in these movements. The shameless loudspeakers will then build up a national anti national narrative seeking ‘strong’ action against the ‘anti national’. The party goons will then be sent as ‘locals’ to raise slogans against the movement. The media will be in full swing to cater the demand for action. Police and paramilitary will be mobilised and then when the movement is ‘discredited’ than intimidate leaders and brutally suppress the movement.
If you see the administrative efforts by bringing thousands of police to the protest sites and look out notices against the farmer leaders and vilifying them as criminals, it is the same chronology that we saw in Shaheen Bagh which was one of the finest forms of protests that democratic India saw in recent years. These protests are definitely event managements too yet they come through new ideas. Of course, a prolonged protest helps the government to create divisions and then act once violence happen.
In democracy, the ruling party has to show its willingness to understand what the people want and not work day and night to vilify them just to please the few cronies who might be funding them.
In the last few years we are witnessing this trend of criminalising activists and demonising them. The victims are being victimised. FIRs in most of the cases are filed against everyone making work of police more difficult as they look like sarkari Babus then managing the law and order. ‘Law’ has become new tactics in the hands of those who never cared for it when they were in the opposition or when Babari Masjid was demolished.
I have seen those period of Mahendra Singh Tikait in the Western Uttar Pradesh, his first protest at Shamli in the early 1980s when the sarkari officials would not go to collect Bijali bills from the farmers. The movement established Mahendra Singh Tikait and slowly diluted the leadership of the Chaudhuary Charan Singh family. Political parties play these games deliberately to weaken the established opponents. Congress did it during the Anna movement as many of them felt that it will help them but it boomeranged. Now, Uttar Pradesh saw the same. Rakesh Tikait is at the moment, the biggest leaders of the farmers movement here and efforts to intimidate him through criminal actions only backfired as farmers from all the western Uttar Pradesh districts started moving towards Ghazipur border as per newspaper reports. Now, reports are coming that excessive police presence is removed as Rakesh Tikait has called to strengthen the cause of the farmers. It is heartening to see that farmers have realised the sinister game plan to break their movement and malign it.
During emergency time people use to call Akashwani and doordarshan as dirty trick department but today the loudspeakers in the media houses have played worst than what we saw during the emergency. All of them, funded by the cronies, in the heart of their heart wanted that government show ‘strong will’ to crush the movements. They were doing every bit to delegitimise the movement as all through the years accept the Ram Temple movement, they opposed every movement by people and build narrative to criminalise the opponents of the Sarkar.
As I said, in democracy, we do not speak of victory or loss but our common goal, shared heritage. Farm leaders have shown great strength and called out for action against those who instigated violence and went through a different rout but in the garb of that you can not blame the entire movement which has remained absolutely peaceful so far. Those who unleashed violence should be booked but that does not mean that the demands of the farmers are wrong.
Indian agriculture need serious thoughts. We need laws which can be helpful to farmers and not to the cronies who want to control the entire sector. The government need to consult all particularly the farmers as well as farm workers. We demand land reforms so that landless people can get land and engage in family farming as the UN has declared the entire decade that of family farming. We do not seem to have an agenda for the same. It is time the government show its magnanimity, repeal the laws and sit with all the stakeholders to draft a new law which help all.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist