The purported peaceful Kisan agitation started and carried forward by a section of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Western U. P to redress their grievances against the three agri reform bills enacted by the government was only a calm before a storm. The agitation started peacefully with the objective of alleviating the apprehensions and doubts prevailing among the farmers about the consequences coming out of the bills if implemented, sought a comprehensive dialogue with the government to get the assurance from them that the farmers’ interest would be protected. The government on their part also assured the farmers that their interest will always be protected and agreed for a thorough clause by clause discussion and debate on the bill and to make necessary changes, if need be, in the bills to amicably settle all contentious issues by way of amendments to the various clauses in the bills to assuage the feelings of insecurity of the farmers regarding their future fate. Many meetings were held to resolve the issues. The government even suggested keeping the implementation of the bills in abeyance for a period of 180 months. But no resolution of the disputed issues involved could be arrived at because the agitating farmers changed their demand from settling the issues to repealing the three Acts enacted by parliament as precondition to carry forward the dialogue. Since then, whatever the government offered for discussion were rejected by the farmers shooting down any negotiated settlement.
In the meanwhile, The Supreme Court of India intervened and suspended the implementation of the three farms laws and set up a committee of 4 eminent persons to examine the legislations to make necessary changes, if need be, to alleviate the grievances of the agitating farmers by holding talks with the stake holders and to submit their report to the Supreme Court. The Hon’ble Supreme Court made it clear, “No power can stop us from forming the committee. We are not catering to everyone’s idea of what a good committee is. If farmers want resolution, they will go before the committee and put forth their views. It will not pass any order or punish you. It will submit a report to us”. The Supreme Court bench made it very clear that all farmers who want to solve the problem arising from the farm laws would appear before the committee and express their grievances. But the farmers’ unions rejected the steps taken by the supreme court and in defiance of supreme court order they did not participate in the deliberations. They also stood firm on their decision to carry out their tractor rally on the Republic Day in Delhi which created a delicate situation of law and order. The supreme court while directing the Delhi police to take appropriate steps to keep the law and order intact, ordered that the legitimate rights of the agitating farmers to peacefully protest cannot be curtailed. There were apprehensions, anxiety, and an uneasy calm prevailing. An understanding was arrived at between the agitating farmers and the police on the modalities of undertaking a peaceful tractors rally and protest march in the national capital after the Republic Day celebrations along the mutually agreed routes maintaining peace and order.
26th January 2021: All hell broke loose in the national capital on the day it was celebrating its Republic Day, the agitating farmers were indulging in outrageous acts of vandalism in the Delhi streets as protesting farmers clashed with the police. The farmers’ unions betrayed the police, supreme court and the government by violating the terms and conditions of the agreement entered into between them and the police for a peaceful protest. As per the visuals going around in the various news channels and other social media, the famers were seen trying to run over their tractors over police men, brandishing swords and pelting stones, vandalizing public properties, breaking barricades, damaging CCTV particularly in the Red Fort area etc. Inflammatory speeches were made by some of the unscrupulous leaders. The attacking agitating farmers outnumbered the police personnel and the onslaught on the police personnel by the farmers continued unabated during what was supposed to be a peaceful tractor rally around the national capital city borders. The most shameful act by the farmers was the attack on the Red Fort when the unruly farmers desecrated the national flag at Red Fort and hoisted their yellow flag and brutally assaulted the outnumbered police force. There was total mayhem and anarchy prevailing at that time. It was clear that the entire agitation was hijacked by anti-social and anti national elements and the saner leaders of the agitating farmers lost complete control over the events stood as helpless and hapless mute spectators to the deteriorating situation. The opportunistic attitude of the political opponents of the government was also encouraging the perpetrators of the vandalism.
The leaders of the famers’ unions cannot absolve from their responsibilities and accountabilities for having miserably failed in preventing the perpetrators from entering the fray and giving an opportunity for the opponent political outfits to fish in the troubled against the declaration by the leaders of the farmers that their protest was non-political involving only the farmers fighting for their legitimate rights. Now the blame game has started. The farmers’ unions allege that “the Centre conspiring with certain individuals, including a BJP-RSS linked actor to defame the movement” and that “the police forced the protestors to head towards Red Fort.” But the video footage shows a different story. The leaders who had promised a peaceful march and should have reined in the hotheads did the disappearing act and the volunteers who were supposed to keep the rally on course were not be seen anywhere. This was a pyrrhic victory, bitter harvest of what turned out to be a rudderless agitation when it came to hitting the streets.
The police personnel showed exemplary restraint not to allow the hooliganism of the farmers to go out of control and in the process 394 police personnel were injured in the violence. The war of attrition has already started between the ruling BJP and Congress and its allies accusing each other of instigating the violence and the resultant carnage. If a dispassionate and unbiased view is undertaken it can be seen beyond any doubt that the peaceful negotiations between the agitating farmers and the government was progressing well when the farmers were putting forth their views and the demands to the government and the government was agreeing to accommodate most of the demands of the farmers and even was ready to go to the extent of keeping the implementation of the provisions of the bills for 18 months to sort out all contentious issues. But as the negotiations progressed there was a paradigm shift in the attitude of the farmers through their adamant and insistent demand to repeal all the three bills which created a trust deficit between the government and farmers. The declaration of the agitating farmers to take out a tractor rally and the subsequent rejection and boycott of the supreme court initiatives to find an amicable solution to the burning issues sealed any chance of negotiated settlement. Adding fuel to fire, the opposition political parties supported the move of the farmers for the obvious reason of promoting their vested interests particularly their sole objective of bringing down the democratically elected absolute majority government of Modi. The action of the agitating farmers and the political opponents of the government to thwart a negotiated settlement of a contentious issues which is causing huge revenue loss affecting trade and commerce and GDP particularly when the economy of the nation is struggling to come out of devastating effect of pandemic corona, is nothing but an act betraying the nation exposing their hidden agenda of creating chaos and anarchy to achieve their objective with the connivance of the opposition political parties.
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