Amidst the raging protest by Punjab farmers against the farm laws that would actually empower farmers, several elements have been playing a dangerous game. After certain ‘farmers’ hailed the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, issued death to PM Modi and also hailed Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, now, the fear-mongering has started emanating from certain quarters of the media.
Gurcharan Singh Babbar, editor-in-chief of Quami Patrika and Sikh Times has now shared a provocative message against the central government. In his video message that has now gone viral in some circles, he made the preposterous claim that the government will soon launch an operation against the farmers protesting in and around Delhi.
Babbar started his message by introducing himself and said that as he is editor-in-chief of three daily newspapers. He further claimed that he had important ‘top-secret information’ about the ongoing farmers’ protests. He said the government is not going to take back the Agriculture Laws. Claiming that farmers’ agitation at the Sindhu border has ‘scared the government’, he said that the Modi government was planning to launch a ‘large operation’ to end the protest at the Sindhu border.
He said, “The government is using private agencies to collect information about the people who are attending the protest at the Sindhu border. These agencies are collecting information about the number of women, children, youth, elders, and leaders in the protest. Using the information collected by these agencies, the government will launch an operation against the protesters soon on a cold night. The government will cut off the electric supply of the area and the paramilitary forces will charge towards the agitators using big torches. The government may also use CRPF and BSF for the operation.”
He further added that the government would arrest people from the protest sites and will throw them in temporary jails. Simultaneously, he alleged that the government is planning to impose curfew in Punjab and Haryana so that no one can raise a voice against the operation.
It is pertinent to note that The Shaheen Bagh protest used the exact same tactic of repeatedly claiming that the Modi government was about to ‘crush the protest’ using force and till the very end, that did not happen. It was the protestors, the organisers and others who then launched large-scale violence against those who actually agreed with the CAA law and not the other way around.
The situation seems to be rather similar here. During Shaheen Bagh, once the Islamist slogans surfaced, the rhetoric about the protest being ‘organic’ and ‘spontaneous’ was completely discredited. The surfacing of Islamist Sharjeel Imam and others as masterminds also proved that they were indeed orchestrated and had nefarious designs. With the farmer protests, exactly the same happened, but with Khalistani slogans and posters. Once posters of Bhindranwale etc surfaced, the legitimacy of the protest was completely shattered. In both cases, once the credibility of the protest was shattered, the rhetoric about the government using force to end the protest started. Gurcharan Singh Babbar seems to be employing the exact strategy that Islamists employed during the Shaheen Bagh protest.
Indulging in mindless scare-mongering further, he alleged that as a senior leader, he believes a lot of people will die because of this operation and many will get injured. “Media is under control of the Modi government. They will talk in favour of the government. The media will say that the operation against the protestors was right”. He further alleged that the govt is holding a meeting with officers of paramilitary forces and top-secret agencies.
In this entire rant, Gurcharan Singh Babbar does not offer a single shred of evidence to support his extremely dangerous claims. He only makes up sources, much like a quintessential Lutyens journalist, and peddles the product of his own imagination as facts.
After scare-mongering and lying based on ‘sources’, Gurcharan Singh Babbar threatens the government
In his video, Babbar warned the government that if they take any action against the farmers, the whole nation will face the consequences. “I suggest the Modi government that they should sit with the farmers and agree to their demands so that the protests can come to an end. If the government tries to forcefully end the protests, the whole nation will face the consequences.” He further said that everyone should think about the nation.
Interestingly and rather dangerously, he further tried to instigate the Armed Forces. He said that instead of being ‘stubborn’, PM Modi should give in to the farmers demand and that if the government uses force, “the children of the farmers who are at the border, who are officers in Indian Armed forces, BSF, CRPF, who are IAS and IPS, will react”.
Gurcharan Singh Babbar replicates the Shaheen Bagh fear-mongering model, that ultimately led to the Delhi Riots
What Gurcharan Singh Babbar is doing, is arguable far worse than the Shaheen Bagh model. It is pertinent to note that there are historic wounds that are being alluded to here, that can only have disastrous consequences. First, during the protests, the Khalistan movement, that claimed thousands of lives is alluded to, while a terrorist like Bhindranwale being hailed. Simultaneously, certain farmers threaten the Prime Minister with a fate similar to that of Indira Gandhi.
What Gurcharan Singh Babbar seems to be doing is to attempt and equate the Golden Temple raid to flush out Khalistani terrorists with an imaginary situation where the Modi govt is set to end the protest by force. This is possibly only being done to inflame passions of the protestors, predominantly Sikhs. What makes Gurcharan Singh Babbar’s rant far worse, is that at the end of this mindless video, he alludes to the fact that officers from the Indian Armed forces, BSF, police, CRPF etc could rise in revolt against the government.
If there ever was seditious speech, this would perhaps be it.
In fact, this entire trop is seems to be rather well-thought out, spearheaded by Congress itself.
Only a few days ago, Tehseen Poonawalla, who is a relative of Rahul Gandhi, invoked the same trope. He posted a video where he was provoking the Sikh officers of the Indian Army to rise up against the Indian government.
A Farmer’s son can’t eat Pizza or wear Jeans but Jai Shah s/o Amit Shahji can be in BCCI!— Tehseen Poonawalla Official (@tehseenp) December 12, 2020
Fakeer Modiji can buy new planes!
I request our Armed Forces, warn the govt not to call our farmers #Khalistanis / terrorists or you’ll will join the #FarmersProtests !
NO #FarmersWithModi pic.twitter.com/LJt6Bqv0QD
Such fear-mongering only goes to show how these protests are not only orchestrated but has nefarious plans that have nothing to do with the farm laws, that would actually benefit the farmers.
Misinformation against Laws and Government
Babbar is not the only one who spreading misinformation or indulging in fear-mongering against the union government or the Agriculture laws. Yesterday, OpIndia reported about Katha Vachak Banta Singh Ji who used Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Ji to spread misinformation about the laws. From opposition leaders to Khalsa Aid’s founder Ravi Singh, and from organizations like PFI and SFJ are trying to take advantage of the situation and spread their anti-India propaganda. In fact, only a few days ago, it was revealed that the ‘farmer’ who was demanding that the laws be repealed was a Congress leader who had assets worth well over Rs 600 crores and also had several serious criminal charges against him.
What are the farm laws?
One of the biggest factors plaguing the growth of agriculture sector in the country is the inability of the farmer to find a market and to get a fair price to his produce. To address the issue, the erstwhile governments of different states enacted the Agricultural Produce Market Regulation Acts (APMC Acts), which authorised them to set up and regulate marketing practices in wholesale markets.
The objective of these markets was to ensure that farmers get a fair price for their produce. However, with each passing year, the APMCs turned out to be inefficient with increasing cartelisation of middlemen, ban on private players to enter the trade, increasing corruption etc.
The Modi government recently introduced three bills to promote much easier trade for the farm produce and to provide a competitive market for the producers outside the existing APMC system. The three laws were:
- The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020: This law aims at creating additional trading opportunities outside the APMC market yards to help farmers get remunerative prices due to additional competition
- The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020: This law relates a framework for contract farming through an agreement between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce.
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020: This law aims to regulate the supply of certain food items only under extraordinary circumstances.
It is pertinent to mention that the farm laws are set of three laws that allow farmers to sell their products outside APMC act (most states make it compulsory for the farmers to sell at APMC mandis). It also allows farmers to directly have a contract with corporate houses.
That farm laws don’t do away with APMC, and if someone is not willing to trust markets outside the current system, they are free to stick to the ongoing system. It doesn’t do away with MSPs either. However, the prevalent narrative that seems to be motivated by political concerns falsely claims that APMCs and MSP are being done away with.
They also allege that due to these laws, big corporations would have the upper hand in a deal with farmers, however, that again is a lie. In fact, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 ensures that a contract is agreed upon and gives the farmer the power to even cancel contracts.