By Arun Arivastava
It was not merely a coincidence that the day the Supreme Court responding to the petition by a noble lady observed that the 10-month-old farmer protests on Delhi’s borders had “strangulated” the city, the Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra had warned agitating farmers that he would discipline them in “two minutes”; “Face me, it will take just two minutes to discipline you fellows. I am not only a minister or a MP and MLA…People who know me even before I became a Parliamentarian know that I never run away from taking a challenge. The day I accept the challenge you all have to leave not only Palia (a place) but Lakhimpur itself”.
The very next day of his issuing the warning, his son ran his car on the farmers agitating at his native place Lakhimpur. There is no denying the fact that observation of the Supreme Court has boosted the self-esteem of the BJP workers. Observation has virtually projected the farmers as villain who were out to throttle Delhi. The RSS and BJP for last one year have been conspiring to defame and denigrate the farmers’ movement. But they never succeeded in their attempt. Nobody should have forgotten how the BJP with the connivance of the Delhi Police projected the farmers’ as anti-nationals, criminals and even khalistani.
What happened on Sunday in Lakhimpur has been a part of the much deeper conspiracy. In fact the police confess that the incident occurred when farmers assembled at the Tikonia crossing to show black flags to UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who was scheduled to visit Banveerpur, the village of Mishra’s parents, for an event. BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said in a statement: “The farmers who were protesting were returning when they were attacked by cars. They were fired at. Several people have died as per information till now.” Police, however, denied that the protesters were fired at.
On September 27, addressing supporters in Lakhimpur Kheri, Ajay Mishra had warned that the farm protests were organised by “those who are not able to face Modiji”. “So, I want to say, mend your ways or you will face consequences. I will have you mend your ways in two minutes”. If the sources are to be believed Mishra has entrusted his son to teach the lesson to the farmers.
The Morcha, which shared the video, said the farmers were mowed down while “dispersing from their protest at the helipad” and that BKU leader Tajinder Virk was deliberately targeted. Yogendra Yadav of the Jai Kisan Andolan, a Morcha constituent, said Sunday’s incident was another attempt to provoke the farmers to give up their peaceful resistance and turn to violence.
He said the incident was “shocking” not just for the farmers’ movement but for all manner of people’s struggles. Yadav and farmer leader Darshan Pal said the movement would stay on course and remain peaceful. “The biggest strength of our movement is that it is peaceful. If we remain peaceful, we will win”. The BJP has been using both legal and extra legal methods to drench out and defeat the farmers.
In fact the observation of the division bench of Supreme Court has shocked the farmers who have been agitating for a year for scrapping of the three laws. They allege that persons, organisations and even the Governments owing allegiance to the RSS and BJP have been trying to mislead the court. They point out that BJP organisation Kisan Mahapanchayat simply for creating confusion has been filing petitions. It had also moved a petition in the past. In the past one year many individuals approached the Supreme Court with the plea to vacate the agitators.
They are using all kind of machinations, as they had resorted in the case of Shaheen Bag to throw the dharna participants out. If they succeed in their mission Modi will eventually win the battle and his black laws will turn the farmers into pauper. The importance of the sit in strike could be gauged from the simple fact that in spite of sacrificing 800 colleagues and comrades they continue to sit facing all odds.
In this regards the Haryana government has resorted to most blatant lies. Its chief minister has openly directed his party workers to teach lessons to the farmers and also pursuing the legal path. The state government was at no stage involved in negotiation. But in a petition it claimed that it has set up panel for holding talks with the protesting farm leaders who have refused to take part in talks intended to resolve the issue. The fact is the Union government with the consent of the Supreme Court had set up a panel. But farmers refused to acknowledge it. They are not willing to accept anything less than scrapping of the laws.
In was the Union Agriculture Minister who had held 10 rounds of talk with the farmers. While the farmers have been agitating for a year, the Haryana government became too kind to set up state level panel on September 15, 2021 to hold discussions with the farmers’ bodies but they refused to come forward for talks on September 19. Since Haryana has no locus standi, its voice has no relevance, it cannot go against the stand of Narendra Modi then what is the relevance of participating at the meeting and spoiling time. This was purely a move to trap the movement and farmers.
Haryana government received a boost in its effort to create confusion with Supreme Court on Monday seeking responses from the leaders of 43 farmers’ bodies, including Rakesh Tikait, Darshan Pal and Gurnam Singh who are leading protests at Delhi borders against the farm laws, on Haryana government’s plea alleging that they have not been participating in talks with its panel to resolve the impasse over road blockade here.
Haryana has moved the application in the PIL filed by Monicca Agrawaal who has sought removal of blockade saying that earlier it took 20 minutes to reach Delhi and now it is taking over two hours and people of the area are facing hardships due to protests at the UP Gate on Delhi border.
The observations of the Supreme Court are at variance with what a bench presided over by the then Chief Justice S A Bobde had said on December 17, 2020: The farmers have a constitutional right to continue with their protests as long as their dissent did not descend into violence. It further observed “we clarify that this court will not interfere with the protests in question. Indeed, the right to protest is part of a fundamental right, and can be exercised subject to public order.” Should the Supreme Court be seen as speaking in different voices?
No one has alleged that the farmers are a threat to public order. Not even the lady whose petition has evoked strong action. The fact of the matter is Haryana government had fired the first salvo against the farmers by putting barricades at the Haryana-Delhi border, digging up the highway and using force, including tear gas, and water cannons to prevent them from entering Delhi.
Starting from our freedom struggle, history is replete with instances of agitations and dharnas at public places. What farmers are doing is nothing new. They have been following the path of Gandhi’s Satyagrah.
Instead of getting angry on the farmers the Supreme Court should try to break the impasse, it should ask Modi government to scrap the black laws. The laws were framed by Modi for the benefit of farmers. But when the farmers are unwilling to accept it as it would not help them, then why Modi is insisting? Whose interest he intends to serve, He would certainly not be serving the farmers. He is out to serve his corporate friends.
Immense success of the recent Bharat bandh call had actually unnerved Modi and his aides. This was for the first time in Independent India that a bandh across the country was successful. This success sent the heart breaking sign for the government. It was only after this Haryana has become quite pro active in breaking the agitation.
The fact which has never been brought to the knowledge of the court is the blockade carried out by the Delhi police that has been primarily responsible for the jam. Not the protest. On August 23, the top court had asked Centre why the government can’t find a solution to this problem as though farmers have the right to protest but at the designated places and due to the protests, inflow and outflow of traffic cannot be disrupted.
The RSS and BJP governments of Centre and UP have been at the root of all the problems. Unfortunately the rulers have never been summoned to the court. Modi and Yogi are not above laws. They must clarify their stand. Some time back CJI N V Ramana had correctly observed that nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and police have been at the root of all problems. He was also planning to constitute a standing committee to look into this aspect. The apex court has to look into farmers plights also. (IPA Service)