Annadatas- From violence to Black Day, what’s next?

Amid the ups and downs of farmers’ protest, Delhi police filed a 3232-page chargesheet. In the chargesheet, the Delhi police stated that the agitators aimed of making Red Fort as a new Dharna site. The chargesheet also claims that the planning of violence on Republic day was done back in November-December. A “deep-rooted and premeditated conspiracy” was conspired, claimed Delhi police. As per claims of Delhi police, Republic Day tractor march was carried out to cause embarrassment at national and even at international level.

Despite Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM)’s assurance and Delhi Police’s conditions for the Republic Day tractor march, violence broke out on January 26, as the farmers entered Delhi – breaking barricades and cemented barriers, riding bikes brandishing swords, sticks and vandalising a bus, drove tractors at full speed towards the police – leading to clashes with Delhi police. As teargas shells, lathicharge was used, police claimed that over 500 personnel were injured and one protestor died after a tractor upturned. The most shocking act was when a group of farmers allegedly led by actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu breached the Red Fort and hoisted the ‘Nishan Sahib’ and the Kisan Union flag atop the Red Fort’s dome and the Khalsa flag on the flag pole. In response, Delhi police fortified the city borders by cementing nails near barricades at Ghazipur (Delhi-Uttar Pradesh) and Tikri (Delhi-Haryana) borders.

The so-called Republic Day tractor march, about which Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) assured that the agitators will abide by the rules and regulations given by Delhi police quickly turned into violent clashes between the ‘Annadatas’ and the Delhi police. The ‘Annadatas’ violently broke the barricades, rode roughly on bikes and tractors, wielded swords and sticks, rushed towards policemen with high speeded tractors, beaten up the policemen with sticks and even disrespected the Tricolor. More than 300 policemen were injured in the clash. The pathetic actions were condemned by President Ram Nath Kovind in strong words.

On May 26, the farmers in Ghaziabad started a ‘Black Day’ protest which marked completion on 180 days of their ‘protest’ against the Union Government for enacting the farm laws. Rakesh Tikait of Bharatiya Kisan Union led the protest and as usual he made a speech assuring that farmers will follow Covid – 19 protocols and a peaceful protest will be done against the Government. He said that farmers protesting will follow social distancing and will wear masks. Effigies were burnt and black flags were hoisted. Farmers gathered at Ghazipur border, violated Covid – 19 rues and regulations and chanted slogans against the Central Government. As reported by ANI, tikait stated that, “Protests will be done peacefully. We are following the Covid-19 protocols. Not many are expected to come here. People are putting up black flags wherever possible to mark the protests.” Tikait also stated that Central Government didn’t paid heed to them even after 6 months and hence they are protesting with black flags. He added that protests will continue until farm laws are repealed. He further added that earlier they decided to protest using the tri-colour, but due to objections from certain authorities, they changed it to black coloured flag. Tikait also stated that such continuous agitations will cost BJP in assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh in 2022. While speaking to Indian Women’s Press Corps, he said that there is no deadline for the protest, if the situation demands, they will continue the protest till 2024 i.e; next general elections.

Tikait said that, farmers have not gathered in huge number due to prevailing Covid – 19 situations. Tikait said that people will support the farmers’ protest by hoisting black flags at their homes and vehicles. Alleging Central Government, Tikait said that, “Previously, rates of Di Ammonium Phosphate were Rs 1900. After our agitation increased, the rates dropped down to Rs 1200. This rate drop continued for a span of 3-4 months. But now, the rates have gone up again.” The Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson, Tikait adamantly went on saying that, “We demand that farms laws should be repealed. Unless and until our demands are met, we’ll continue to protest. There is no definite time span for how long the agitation will last. We’ll call off the protest once Centre repeals the farm laws.” The call for observing May 26 as a ‘Black Day for Democracy’, was given by Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM). The call was supported by various political parties. Delhi Police issued a statement saying, it will take action against people who will not follow the law. “We urge people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour not to demonstrate any kind of gathering. Any kind of illegal activity or entry will not be permitted at borders. Action will be taken against those breaking laws”, said Chinmoy Biswal, Delhi Police spokesperson.

It is to be noted that the decision to carry on ‘farmers protest’ comes after Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh appealed the farmers to put their Kisan Andolan on hold as it is possible that the protest can spike the cases of coronavirus and hence it would turn to a ‘super-spreader of the Coronavirus’. As reported by ANI, he said that, “considering the total support, the state government had extended all these months to the agitating farmers on the issue of the Centre’s black Farm Laws, it is time for the farmers now to reciprocate by supporting the state government in the fight against the pandemic.”

Also, numerous agitators led by Tikait came together at Hisar’s ‘Kranti Ground’ on May 25, Tuesday to protest the action taken by police against them on May 16 as they violated Covid – 19 rules and regulations. As per their demand, the FIRs registered against 350 agitators should be quashed. On May 16, Haryana’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar went to inaugurate a 500-bed hospital. The protestors moved from the protesting sites to the inauguration venue and the clashes between police and protestors broke out.

On May 25, just a day before the ‘black day protest’ called by Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a notice was issued by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to Chief Secretaries of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi raising concerns regarding the mass gatherings and violating Covid -19 rules and regulations. The NHRC took cognizance of a complaint and asked for a report on the measures taken to reduce Covid -19 infection at the protest sites from the mentioned states. The following report is to be submitted in four weeks.

The ‘black day’ protest was supported by 12 opposition parties which maintained pin drop silence on the violence created by so called ‘annadatas’ on 26 January. The joint letter was written by leaders of 12 Opposition parties which included 4 Chief Ministers. MK Stalin of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Mamata Banerjee of Trinamool Congress, Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv sena and Hemant Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. Other leaders included Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party, Farooq Abdullah of Jammu & Kashmir National Conference, D Raja of Communist Party of India, Sitaram Yechury of Communist Party of India (Marxist), H D Deve Gowda of Janata Dal (Secular), Tejashwi Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal, Sharad Pawar of Nationalist Congress Party and Sonia Gandhi of Indian National Congress. This letter also included an excerpt from the letter written by these opposition parties to PM Modi on May 12 which stated that Center should repeal the farm laws to protect ‘Annadatas’. In the letter the leaders of opposition parties demanded to repeal the farm laws immediately along with legal entitlement to MSP of C2+50% as recommended by Swaminathan Commission.

Mayawati extended the support of Bahujan Samaj Party by tweeting in support of the protest.

Sitaram Yechury also extended the support to the ‘black day’ by posting a video on twitter on May 26. He also tweeted on May 23 saying Repeal farm laws & protect annadatas becoming victims of the pandemic. Here’s what he tweeted.

Despite of worst situations and lockdown in Delhi till May 31, the Aam Admi Party also supported the protest. Raghav Chadha the party spokesperson tweeted on May 23 and extended support to agitators.

In its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, the Shiv sena stated that Union Government imposed the new farm laws on innocent farmers. The Union Government is not repealing the laws and hence forcing the farmers to continue their protest. Shiv sena stated that, Centre should be apathetic towards the agitators and break the silence.

When the Nation is fighting corona virus, situations are horrifying, states like Delhi, Punjab and Haryana observing lockdown, ‘Annadatas’ are busy protesting for repealing the farm laws for 6 months and opposition leaders like Kamal Nath are happy provoking them. For former Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath, this is the right time to provoke the protest so that ‘Annadatas’ would get justice. In a video posted by BJP leader VD Sharma, former Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath is explaining the congress workers the right opportunity to ‘set fire’. In a 20 seconds video he is herd saying, “tum logo ko aag lagani hai, maine kaha tha yeh aag lagane ka mauka hai…. Aur kisano ke sath nyay ho…. Dusra kaam hai aag lago” i.e; “Set fire, I told you people that this is an opportunity…. And farmers should get justice…. the second task is to set fire”

The agitators have been protesting since 26 November 2020. The protest is against 3 new farm laws enacted by the Central Government. Numerous rounds of talks proved to be a failure to break the deadlock. A panel of formed by Union Government met farmers on 22 January 2021 after which the talks haven’t conducted between the two sides.

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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