RAJEEV KHANNA | 10 DECEMBER, 2020
Farmers Reject Divisive Campaigns
One of the biggest achievements of the ongoing farmers’ agitation is to successfully ride rover all the tried and tested methods to break the unity, and divide the movement. But this time the resolve of the farmers has proven to be the biggest obstacle in the way of such efforts, with the resolve unshaken as evident in the farmers refusal to accept the government’s amendments and insist that the farm laws be repealed.
The attack on the movement started right from the very beginning. The first was the effort by the pliant media to dub the protesting farmers as Pakistani and Khalistani supporters, by giving voice to elements airing this propaganda. The social media was also flooded with the same.Comparisons were made between the Shaheen Bagh agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) to insist that all came from the ‘anti national’ stock.
This was then added to by claims, on and outside the media, that the protestors were not just ‘anti national’ but also motivated by ‘urban naxals’ and were ‘anti development.’ But this did not stop the farmers with the grounds swelling with protestors day by day. The people, particularly in Punjab, know that Khalistan is an idea raked up time and again to divide them by the political forces aiming to achieve their political goals. It is a dead horse in Punjab that is flogged time after time.
As Kanwar Pal Singh of Dal Khalsa, an organization known for its radical politics, told this reporter, “The beauty of this agitation like other mass movements is that the issue of farmers and farming takes precedence over ideology. The participants are members of farming families first and followers of different ideologies later. That is why they rise together to defeat divisive agenda. It is just like actors and singers turning up at the protest sites and declaring that they are sons and daughters of farmers before anything.”
It was interesting to see the ‘Sarkari’ channels showing programmes and discussions on Punjab militancy, Operation Blue Star and the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi over the last few days.
More so as the perception that the farmers protest has rekindled the hope of millions across the country in democracy and peaceful democratic means of protest, is gathering ground despite this adverse propaganda.
Another interesting facet of the agitation is the Dalit farmers and farm labour standing shoulder to shoulder with Jat Sikh farmers. The two are often at loggerheads in Punjab over agrarian issues but are presently on the same side against a common enemy.
“The Dalits understand that this will not spare anyone and target the vulnerable one by one. They know that corporatization of farming will spell doom for everyone in Punjab. The Jat Sikhs also realize that the slogan of ‘Kisan Ekta Zindabad’ is incomplete and it has to be ‘Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad’ to ensure the success of the movement. The common man has understood that the fundamental interests of the people cannot be sacrificed at the altar of ego and arrogance of those in power. This has made them forget their differences,” said Mukesh Malaudh of Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee (ZPSC), an organizations that has been fighting to get land rights for Dalits in Punjab. It is pertinent to point here that representatives of many Dalit labour unions have joined the protests on the border of Delhi.
Observers point out that alongside raising the bogey of Khalistan, the other attempts of communalizing the protests have also failed. This is primarily because the interests of the predominantly Sikh farmers in Punjab are intertwined with those of mainly Hindu arthiyas or commission agents. Even otherwise the two communities have been interdependent and culturally very close for centuries. They had together fought the dark days of militancy in the state.
The lone Muslim dominated pocket of Malerkotla too has thrown its weight behind the farmers contributing in the fight on all fronts. “The first thing that needs to be understood is that this is not a ‘Kisani Andolan’ but an ‘Insani Andolan’. A farmer tills the land and grows food grains and other produce not for any particular community but for entire humanity and this must be respected,”community leader Dr Naseer Akhtar pointed out.
The Muslims of Malerkotla have been associated with the agitation from the very first day. They have been organizing langar at various places like Patiala, Sunam and Nabha serving delicacies like Zarda and Pulao to the participants. They have also sent a team to the Delhi border to serve langar to the farmers braving the odds on the roads.
The equality of gender in this fight is for all to see as women are standing shoulder to shoulder in this fight. While many women are attending to the fields and household chores as the men folk are agitating near Delhi, a large number of them are reaching the protest sites every day to air the demands of the farming community. The manner in which the masses stood up to denounce those targeting the aged women protestors has sent a very strong message.
There have even been attempts to rake up the controversial Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue that has been a bone of contention between Punjab and Haryana. It is obvious that this is being done to drive a wedge between the farmers of the two states who have joined hands to oppose the controversial farm laws. But no one has been paying heed to such attempts. The support extended by the farmers of Haryana to those from Punjab has been unprecedented.
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