After hijacking the border areas of the national capital, the so-called farmers, who have been protesting against the Modi government’s three new farm laws, have started stirring violence in many parts of the country. After vandalising several Reliance Jio towers in Punjab and almost crushing policemen under their tractors in Uttrakhand, reports have now emerged that at least four venues in Punjab, where screening of PM Narendra Modi’s interaction with farmers was being held, was ransacked by ‘farmers’ Friday.
According to a report by The Indian Express, Punjab’s Bathinda, Kotkapura, Fazilka and Jalandhar, where BJP leaders had organised the live screening of the event faced acts of vandalism and disruption by protesting ‘farmers’. Interestingly, in most of these venues, members of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) were leading the protest.
‘Farmers’ led by BKU resort to vandalism in Bhatinda, Punjab
The BJP event in Bathinda’s Ram Chandra Market on Amrik Singh road had to be wrapped up within 15 minutes of its start as agitating farmers barged into the venue raising slogans and ransacked the place leaving at least five party workers injured. BJP district president Vinod Kumar Binta said that the farmers threw the chairs and damaged picture of the former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to celebrate whose birth anniversary the event was organised and also to listen to the PM live.
In the video footage of the incident, protesters were seen breaking chairs, throwing BJP flags and raising slogans like ‘Modi Sarkar Murdabad’, ‘Kale Kanoon Radd Karo’.
Binta said: “We had erected a tent near my office in Ram Chandra Market. We had to celebrate the birth anniversary of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and also to listen to the PM live. We had just started the programme when farmers came inside the tent and started raising slogans against us, they threw the chairs and even damaged picture of the former PM. We had no choice but to leave the venue. In a democracy, if they have the right to protest, even we have the right to organise any programme in a peaceful manner. I along with other BJP leaders went to the SSP Bathinda and apprised him of the matter. But we haven’t submitted a written complaint yet.”
The district president informed that the BJP legal cell co-convener Ravinder Gupta was among those who sustained injuries. Gupta, he said, got 22 stitches on the leg. Police rushed to the spot and resorted to mild lathi-charge to control the situation, BJP leaders said.
While police had erected a barricade on the road leading to the venue, members of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) and Dodhi (milkmen) Union, Bathinda unit, came in large numbers at the spot and removed the barricades, raised slogans and protested.
So-called farmers stage protests in Jalandhar, Punjab
In Jalandhar, members from BKU (Rajewal) staged protested in three places in the city including outside the house of former Punjab Minister Manoranjan Kalia. The union also gheraoed the main office of the party. As they broke barricades, the police had to resort to mild force, in turn injuring few ‘farmers’.
In Kotkapura in Faridkot district, it was again the BKU (Ugrahan) members who resorted to sloganeering and vandalism at the event organised at in the city’s Aggarwal Dharamshala. Sunita Garg, general secretary of Punjab BJP, had organised the programme, along with others had to be taken out of the venue by the police after the place was taken over by the members of BKU.
Police used mild force to disperse the protesters as well. Garg said, “Why can’t we peacefully pay tributes to the former PM Atal Bihar Vajpayee and also to listen to our PM.”
Speaking about the protest, Sunita Garg said: ”They were not the farmers but SAD, Congress and AAP workers holding union flags. They are trying to create unrest in Punjab due to which people have forgotten the real issues like deaths due to illicit liquor, mining mafia etc. For the past 3 months dharna has been organised outside my house as well. As we knew that they were SAD, Congress workers, we burnt effigies of Sukhbir Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh near my house to lodge our protest.”
Balck flag shown by ‘farmers’ to BJP leaders in Fazilka, Punjab
In Fazilka, a programme to celebrate the birth anniversary of the former PM Vajpayee was organised at Shteerwala village. Surjit Kumar Jyani, chairperson of BJP’s 8-member panel was invited for the event. He was to address the farmers over their grievances but instead, he was shown black flags by the farmers. The protesters even argued with Jyani over farm laws.
BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh said: “Complete anarchy is prevailing in Punjab where law and order are in the hands of goons and police have become a silent and helpless onlooker.”
BKU and its double-standards
People who are unversed would be rather shocked to know that BKU, which is now leading the protests against the farm laws had demanded the same things as provided under the laws by the Modi government, which are actually meant to benefit the Indian farmers. The new farm laws, inter alia, liberate the farmers from the clutches of middlemen (Arhityas) and allow them to sell the produce to the buyer of their choice outside the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committees Act) markets at fair prices.
Amusingly, in 2019, the BKU had supported the then Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, late Ram Vilas Paswan after he demanded Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to do away with Arhitya system and ensure direct payment to farmers as is provided under the new farm laws.
The farmers’ union had welcomed the demand for eliminating commission agents who burdened farmers with huge debts and the decision to introduce direct online transactions. A year later, they want the middlemen system restored.
The Kisan manifesto prepared by KCC in 2019 asked for abolishment of APMC and Essential Commodities Act. However, when the current farm laws made provisions ending the monopoly of APMCs, offering farmers the freedom to sell their produce anywhere, the BKU has done a backflip.