Ensure peace, Kisan leaders tell protestors
After the talks between the farmers and the central government broke down, the leaders moved into top gear to ensure the success of the farmers Republic Day parade with the focus on Delhi. The kisan organisations spread out the message urging farmers from the neighbouring states to arrive at Delhi’s border by January 24, and warning them of the necessity to maintain peace.
Kisan leader after leader came on their own channels and gave interviews emphasising that “we will be completely peaceful” maintaining that the government will try and engineer violence but that the farmers will foil these attempts. Through the day and night organisers moved through the lone line of tractors and trolley urging the farmers to follow directions, not to be provoked, and to move according to the directives of the leaders.
They warned of subversives in their midst, maintaining that the government and its agencies were working over time to derail the peaceful protest. Significantly, the farmers apprehended one man who they then produced late night at an impromptu press conference live streamed by the Kisan Ekta Morcha. A man wearing black head gear and a white mask covering his entire face was brought before the media.
From the questions and answers, the man was caught by the farmers while teasing a girl. This was being done deliberately to judge the response of the Sikh farmers, and see if any of them were armed. The man said he was part of a group of ten, prepared and trained to infiltrate the farmers protests with the sole purpose of assessing whether they were carrying arms. He claimed in short sentences and amidst constant questioning, that there was a plan to open fire at two points, and target at least four farmer leaders. He seemed to suggest that the arms for this plan had been delivered but this was not totally clear.
He appeared frightened urging the farmers not to let his identity be known, and to ensure that his family did not come to know. The farmers present, mostly from Punjab although others from west Uttar Pradesh, urged him not to be scared, to speak frankly, and even said that he was just a poor man in need of money. He said he received phone calls from a landline and could not identify those behind the plan.
The farmers said that this confirmed the fears and suspicions that the government was planning to disrupt their protest, and had sent in infiltrators with this purpose in mind. They said they are speaking to all farmers in the protest not to be provoked, to keep the peace, and to remember that it was imperative not to fall into the trap that they claimed the government agencies were laying out for them. In fact this was the main thread of the call for the January 26 parade —come in strength, but keep your peace.
Deep anger still runs through the protest sites about being called anti-nationals and Khalistanis by BJP leaders and by the army of trolls out on the social media every other day. The young farmers, in particular, use the social media and are well aware of the campaigns against them. There is a certain impatience now to get going, even as the elder farmers counsel them to follow directions, and to keep their enthusiasm in check.
The farmers have decided to move through the outer Ring Road and return to their venues. Interestingly, a rumour that the outer Ring Road was spread through the camps and had to be effectively countered by the leaders maintaining that they had not compromised, that they would be well inside Delhi, and would pass landmarks like the Red Fort, Rajghat and other such important venues. The leaders said they have to keep close guard over the rumour machinery that is moving through the protesting farmers at some speed. However, given the trust and confidence these rumours are quelled almost as soon as they surface.
Anger is also growing about the notices being issued by the National Investigation Agency to targeted individuals including farmers, activists, scholars and journalists. Particularly horrific has been reports of the arrest of a young Dalit activist who has reportedly been arrested by the Haryana Police from the Kundli Industrial Area adjacent to Singhu Border. Her sister and others issued a statement ,” After violently dispersing a rally by workers in the area and firing at the gathered workers, the police grabbed Nodeep Kaur, took her to Kundli Police Station, filed two FIRs against her under a wide range of fabricated charges. This was followed by brutal custodial violence by male police officers including targeting her genitals amounting to sexual violence. She is currently in judicial custody in Karnal Jail without adequate medical care.”
Interestingly, the All India Kisan Sabha has issued a statement questioning the governments authority to keep laws passed by Parliament in abeyance. The statement asks Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain whether the proposal of the Cabinet Committee (CC) to keep the 3 farm acts in abeyance for 18 months has any legal sanction. As per the legal opinion received by AIKS centre, “the Union Government has no power to stay or suspend a law passed by the Parliament. Only Parliament has the power to amend or repeal a law’. “
The statement further dismissed “the proposal of the CC is a violation and encroachment over the powers of the Parliament and cannot sustain legally.The demand of repeal of the 3 farm Acts has been formulated after consulting all the legal aspects and this demand cannot be diluted.”
AIKS further asked, “the Union Government is helpless in implementing the 3 farm Acts since the SC has stayed the implementation. When the government agrees to keep the laws in abeyance for 18 months, why can’t it agree to repeal them and enact new laws to protect the interests of the farmers?