New Delhi: As a huge controversy erupted around the farmers’ tractor parade, members of civil society have alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government is “trying to break the farmers’ movement in the garb of Republic day incident”. Observing that the whole exercise shows “same pattern as adopted to break anti-CAA-NRC movement”, the group demanded a fair inquiry into the violence that took place during farmers’ tractor parade on R-Day and also the withdrawal of FIRs against farmer leaders and journalists.
The group comprising well-known economist Dr Atul Sood, senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan, secretary of the Gandhi Peace Foundation – Kumar Prashant , Professor Apoorvanand, Anhad’s founder and activist Shabnam Hashmi and Co-convener of the Nation For Farmers, Dinesh Abrol addressed the media at the Press Club of India in New Delhi.
Fake propaganda to criminalize farmers’ movement
Asserting that the farmers’ agitation has been “peaceful” since the beginning, Atul Sood alleged that the government is attempting to “defame, delegitimize and criminalize” it.
Sood said that since the government failed in its earlier attempts, “So it used 26th January as an opportunity to propagate the very fake narrative through mainstream media — first, that they are not farmers but terrorists or Khalistanis, second, that they are from any particular community or state and third, that there are anti-national elements among them.”
“Whenever any protest or movement takes place against the policy of this government then it does not want to give any reply but defames those who question. By criminalizing farmers, the government wants to break farmers’ movement and divert attention from the main issue,” Dr Sood added while maintaining that the government has no answer on the objections over the “three black farm laws”.
Similar pattern used in anti-CAA-NRC movement
A day after R-Day, Ghaziabad administration had issued a notice to the farmers to vacate the protesting site at the Ghazipur border. As the police and paramilitary forces were deployed there in large numbers, farmers refused to vacate the site. Nand Kishor Gurjar, BJP MLA from Loni also reached there along with his supporters to remove the farmers on Thursday. But instead thanks to an appeal by an emotional Rakesh Tikait, leader of Bhartiya Kisan Union, thousands more farmers also joined them from western Uttar Pradesh.
While on the Singhu border clashes erupted as hundreds of ‘locals’ reached there demanding farmers vacate the site. Some famers and police personnel were injured in the clashes.
Citing the developments taking place at both borders in the aftermath of the R-Day incident, eminent activist and writer, Apoorvanand said, “Now whenever one section of the public protests against the government, another section is mobilized just as it happened during the anti-CAA-NRC protests. This is a dangerous trend. This is hooliganism.”
Objecting to the allegations made by Delhi police commissioner SN Srivastava’s claim that farmer leaders delivered provocative speeches, Apoorvanand said, “Since the government has reached a conclusion without an inquiry, a civil society fact-finding is needed.”
Link between BJP and miscreants
Bhushan maintained that the Samyukt Kisan Morcha pursued the designated route permitted by the Delhi police. He said that the Morcha had already informed the police about a group (referring to a group of protesters led by actor Deep Sidhu) that was not part of the Morcha was adamant to go onto Outer Ring Road.
“On night of 25th January, that group had announced that they would go on Outer Ring Road. How did the police allow them to go on Ring Road and Red Fort on 26th January (R-Day), a day when normally tight security is observed?” questioned Bhushan.
“Later, it was found that Deep has very close relations with the BJP. He was the campaign manager for BJP MP Sunny Deol. He has had photos taken with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at 7 Race Course. Still these people went scot free because these are BJP people,” said Bhushan.
Demand for inquiry
Extending their solidarity with the peasants, Dinesh Abrol demanded, “The connection between the government and those who unleashed the violence has been exposed. Now, it is necessary to counter the fake narrative being built up by the godi-media and the government. A fact-finding enquiry is required because fake cases of UAPA and other sections are being slapped on innocent farmers. For whatever happened at Red Fort, Home Minister Amit Shah must resign.”
FIRs against farmer leaders, journalists should be withdrawn
Activist Shabnam Hashmi asserted, “Farmers are not fighting for themselves in this chilly winter but for every citizen of this country. Government can jail us but this is the farmers’ movement. Nobody can crush it. We want all cases against farmer leaders and journalists to be withdrawn.”
After the R-day incident Delhi police has booked many farmer leaders including Yogendra Yadav, Rakesh Tikait under UAPA and section 153 (A).
Police in three BJP ruled states—Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have also booked some senior journalists namely Rajdeep Serdesai (India Today), The Caravan Magazine’s editors Paresh Nath, Ananth Nath, executive editor Vinod K. Jose, National Herald’s group editor-in-chief Zafar Agha, senior consulting editor Mrinal Pande and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for their alleged ‘provocative’ social media posts on R-Day.
Farmers’ movement needs new Dimension
Secretary of Gandhi Peace Foundation, Kumar Prashant said that he was present at ITO when clashes between the police and farmers started on 26 January. “If the police vehicles were damaged, more tractors of farmers were also damaged. Who broke them? It is important to note that Amit Shah only visited injured policemen but not injured farmers. Is he not the Home Minister of farmers who were injured? ” Prashant asked.
He emphasized that “farmers need to give new dimension to the movement.”