New Delhi: Denouncing the razor wire fencing, cementing of nails, erecting concrete walls, and setting up of a huge barricade by the Delhi police at all the protest site borders of the national capital, citizens from all walks of life gathered at Mandi House on Wednesday for a solidarity march. The participants alleged that Modi government is working as “an occupying army,” and has “waged war against farmers”.
“It is obvious that the government has created a narrative as if we all are enemies. And what is happening at the borders is what an occupying force does in the enemy’s territory. It is clear that the BJP government is an occupying army force in India. We reject it,” said Professor Nivedita Menon while talking to eNewsroom.
Criticising Modi government’s act of suspending internet prior to its fencing exercise at the Delhi borders, Prof. Menon said, “Government has shut down the flow of information because there is enough support for farmers from every part of the country pouring in.”
Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and also a member of the politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), termed the government’s action at borders as “shameful.”
“We are standing here against the government which has waged war against the farmers of this country. That is shameful. The whole world is watching how dictatorial this government is,” said Krishnan.
She demanded the repealing of the three contentious farm laws and the withdrawal of cases slapped against the farmers and journalists. Reacting over Union budget 2021 presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Krishnan said, “They have slashed the budget for agriculture, PM KISAN, MGNREGA and subsidies for farm loans. This government is anti-farmer.”
Extending support to the farmers, Gloria, a psychotherapist by profession said, “To be here is a message to the farmers that they are not alone.”
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Another psychologist Sonia who carried a placard with “Farmers feed cities, government starves them,” in her hand, asserted, “This government is autocratic. I want this government to understand what farmers want.”
Several protesters were carrying placards with that stated — “Shame on BJP government”, “Modi government is for the Corporates, of the Corporates and by the Corporates”, “Farmers Lives Matter”, “No Farmer No Food, and “Repeal anti-farmer laws.”
A protester carrying a placard – “Release Nodeep Kaur” written on it, said, “Goons are on-road and intellectuals are in jail. This is the Gujarat model.” “Kaur has been sexually assaulted in jail,” he alleged.
Nodeep Kaur, a Dalit activist and member of Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan (MAS), was arrested by Haryana police at Singhu border and sent to Karnal jail on 12th January. She has been charged with extortion and attempt to murder.
Students raise voice
A large number of youth and students’ groups participated in the protest. They were seen raising slogans criticising PM Narendra Modi led BJP government.
A student Mohit commented, “By fencing at borders, the government wants to stop the general public from joining the farmers’ protest.”
Kanwalpreet Kaur, national vice-president of AISA said, “BJP sent its men, who claimed to be locals with the sole agenda of unleashing violence at farmers camped at the Singhu border. They can’t divide us in the name of religion.”
While Aishe Ghosh, president of JNUSU in her address mentioned, “We must support those journalists who are reporting the truth.”
Freedom of press under threat
Reacting over sedition charges and FIRs slapped on journalists after violence marred the essence of the farmers’ tractor parade on Republic Day, senior journalist Prashant Tondon said, “It is not just an agitation but about protecting Indian constitution and democracy. The government is overreacting by arresting farmers, journalists and framing sedition charges against them.”
Former CSIR scientist, activist, and poet Gohar Raza said, “Any voice that doesn’t agree with this BJP government and RSS is to be crushed and isn’t that what fascism is all about.”
When asked about press freedom in India, Raza expressed concern, “One of the recent research papers, very clearly on the basis of data indicated that freedom of press and expression is at its worst in India. Perhaps it’s worse than what it was during the emergency. This is what we have seen in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries. People must raise their voices otherwise, we will have to pay a heavy price.”
March cut short by Delhi police
As the protesters tried to move towards Jantar Mantar, Delhi police stopped them citing section 144 imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When Amit Shah holds a rally for the municipal corporation election in Hyderabad then there is no pandemic. When BJP rallies in Bihar and Bengal then there is no Covid. But when the voice of dissent emerges, then only section 144 is imposed,” stated activist Shabnam Hashmi.
A JNU student Kundan Deval said, “It is not a political gathering. It is our right to protest. We want to do a peaceful march only.”
Farm Laws Mustto Go
Writer and filmmaker Suhail Hashmi summed up, “They (Modi government) doesn’t want to talk to the farmers. They want to go through the facade of talking only. The farmers have made their position very clear. These laws must go.”