The move by Constable Kulwinder Kaur of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) who made headlines for allegedly slapping Bollywood actress-Member of Parliament Kangana Ranaut on Friday, needs to be seen in a wider context. The incident is being spun in various directions by the embedded media and spin doctors of the right wing.

The act and its interpretation reflect the phenomenon of how Punjab and Punjabis are misunderstood, and misinterpreted, to spin out narratives that suit the powers that be to achieve their political motives.

A large majority of the people have expressed that they do not support violence, and yet have come out in support of the CISF constable who was heard in a video expressing her anger at Kangana who had insulted the women participating in the farmers’ protest against the three farm laws that the Centre was eventually compelled to withdraw.

On her part Kangana, after she was allegedly slapped, released a video statement talking about the growing ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ in Punjab. It is this statement that has led to the people coming out in Kaur’s support and denouncing Ranaut’s attempts to label an entire community using terms like ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’.

The echo of the alleged slap, and the subsequent comments by Kangana has been heard across the globe. The Punjabi diaspora has come out to support Kulwinder. This support is across the Punjabi community in particular irrespective of the people being Sikhs or non Sikhs.

There are reports from India as well as abroad where people have come forward announcing financial rewards, free legal aid, and even a job compensating Kaur if she happens to lose her current job with the CISF.

Many people also feel that Kaur’s act stems from the general sentiment of the Punjabis with regards to the Centre, particularly when it comes to the issues of the farming community. Her parental family has been deeply involved in the farmers’ struggle. The social media is full of reels, memes and messages echoing support for her.

“Her act is reflective of the tendency of the Punjabis to neither forgive nor forget the wrongs done to them. This comes from folklore. You can call it Kulwinder’s ‘roh’ that can be interpreted as exasperation with what Kangana had said about the farmers all along their struggle.

“She was particularly hurt by the latter’s statement of women attending the protest for a sum of Rs 100 each. Maybe she was unable to express herself all this while and neither did she get an opportunity to do so.

“You have to look at things away from the prism of ideologies and politics. It is about a common man who has been hurt and does not have the capacity to respond back immediately,” Rajiv Sharma, a Punjabi filmmaker said. Sharma shuttles between Punjab and Mumbai for his work and disclosed that a lot many people from the film world too have come out in support of Kulwinder.

Raj Pal, a Punjabi writer and rationalist based in Bathinda had a different take on the issue. “Those who are trying to go overboard and make a hero out of Kulwinder are the very faces that represent the radical stream. Her act sends across a wrong message about Punjab to the rest of India.

“But at the same time the act also needs to be seen as an outcome of the collective consciousness that came from the farmers’ movement. What Kangana has been saying about the farmers is well known. She represents the cruel face of the forces that have been against the masses of Punjab. If seen in this context, Kulwinder’s anger is understandable.”

What the people are curious to know is the immediate provocation that led to the CISF personnel allegedly slapping the newly elected Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. They do not believe that Kulwinder could have acted without any provocation and are questioning why the CCTV footage of the entire episode is not being made public.

Meanwhile, the farming community has come out in support of the CISF personnel. Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) leader Joginder Singh Ugrahan told a section of the vernacular media, “What has happened is a response to the filthy language of the BJP spoken by Kangana.

“It is well known that the wounds caused by words are deeper than those caused by swords. This anger will come to the fore time and again, generation after generation. It can erupt in any generation and any segment of the people. A responsible person should think twice before uttering anything against a people’s movement or a community.”

“You need to investigate why such a thing is happening. Aren’t those who are in the forces not suffering? You have a slogan of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’. The children in the forces are also from our families. Were they (the families) not called terrorists for one year?

“Were they not insulted for 13 months? Every Jawan of the forces is harbouring this pain. There is no need to tamper much. The politicians too should stop giving statements,” farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait said. He has been at the forefront of the farmers’ movement.



Meanwhile, the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) and Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) while announcing support for Kulwinder and organised an 'Insaaf March’ in Mohali on Sunday in which farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan participated in large numbers. These are groups that continue to camp at the borders of Punjab and Haryana after their ‘Delhi Chalo’ push was halted by the authorities in the BJP ruled Haryana by use of force.

This march started from Amb Sahib Gurdwara in Mohali and concluded at the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police Mohali where the farmers' leaders gave a memorandum demanding an honest and fair investigation into the entire incident of alleged slapping of Kangana.

In their address farmer leaders Sarwan Singh Pandher, Amarjit Singh Mohri and Tejveer Singh said that Kangana has been accused of disturbing and spreading poison in the society earlier also. They said that several criminal cases are going on against her while Kulwinder’s record has been spotless.

“Kangana has made some controversial statements against farmers, Sikhs and Punjabis in the past. On the other hand, Constable Kulwinder Kaur has a good service record of years in the CISF. According to her family, no complaint or departmental action was ever taken against her.

“Constable Kulwinder Kaur has been performing her duty with utmost integrity and has not misbehaved with any passenger during her years of service. We need to understand why that constable reacted the way she did,” organisers of the March stated.

Farmers’ leaders Manjeet Rai and Jaswinder Singh Longowal said that another video of the incident has also surfaced in which a man wearing a Himachli cap along with Kangana is seen hitting a woman in a black dress.

“We also want to know why no action was taken against that gentleman. Should it be assumed that being in the team of a Member of Parliament allows a person to beat a woman and roam freely without any legal action, that too in broad daylight?” they asked, while raising doubts that Kangana may have instigated the CISF personnel.

Reacting to Kangana’s statement on terrorism and extremism raising their head in Punjab, they said, “It is a statement issued with the nefarious intention of defaming Punjab.”

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has also responded to the developments in the matter. A state government spokesperson quoted him as saying that the “slap on Kangana represents the simmering anger due to her venomous statement issued in the past”.

He said that it is an unfortunate incident but Ranaut should also have exercised restraint. Before labelling all Punjabis as terrorists she should have remembered the significant contribution of Punjabis in making the country self-reliant in food production, freedom struggle and defence of the country. Mann said that Ranaut’s ‘immature statement’ does not behove a public figure of her stature.