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As Priyanka Gandhi paints rioters as ‘farmers’, here’s a reminder how her father’s govt lathi-charged Rakesh Tikait’s father-led protest

When the farmers had refused to concede in 1988, the Rajiv Gandhi government had allegedly lathi-charged and opened fired on Mahendra Singh Tikait's led farmers rally.

Not long ago, we saw how the ‘farmers’ had unleashed mayhem in Delhi. Thousands of farmers breached barricades to march towards the Parliament and Red Fort as they kicked off their tractor rally on Republic Day. They resorted to vandalism as they ran amok on the highways, attacking the trucks and breaking the barricades that were put up by the Delhi police to control their route. Not merely that, they insulted the Tricolour by hoisting the Sikh Flag at the Red Fort.

While citizens and leaders across the political spectrum, vociferously condemned the violence unleashed by these protesting ‘farmers’ in the national capital, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has tweeted in favour of the rioters. Without speaking a single word of condemnation for what happened in Delhi on Republic Day, the Gandhi scion attacked PM Narendra Modi in her tweet in Hindi, mendaciously blaming him for breaking the farmers’ trust.

She wrote that it is a sin to threaten and terrify the ‘farmers’ of the country. “Attack on the farmer is an attack on the country. Prime Minister, do not weaken the country”, wrote Priyanka Gandhi in Hindi.

While the Gandhi scion is busing showing her immense ‘love’ and ‘sympathy’ for the agitating ‘farmers’ and blaming the Modi government for persecuting them, it becomes imperative to remind her of her own family legacy and her own party treated people who appeared to be actual farmers, unlike Khalistanis and rioters that are running amok in the streets currently.

In a farmers’ agitation that occurred 30 years ago in October 1988 when her father Rajiv Gandhi was at the helm of affairs, the Congress government had then tried every trick up its sleeves, including brute force, to suppress a protest led by the then Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader and Rakesh Tikait’s father Mahendra Singh Tikait, who had locked horns with the Congress government on the issue of farmers’ rights.

Rakesh Tikait’s father Mahendra Singh Tikait (middle) surrounded by farmers at the Boat Club during 1988 agitation (source: The Print)

Back in the late eighties and early nineties, almost 5,00,000 farmers under the guidance of Rakesh Tikait’s father, had occupied the Boat Club and its lawns, near Delhi’s North and South Blocks, with a litany of demands before the Rajiv Gandhi government, which included agrarian distress, delayed payments, complicated bureaucratic rules, and the apathy of the ruling dispensation towards their sufferings.

Farmers gathered at the Rajpath in 1988 in protest against the Rajiv Gandhi government (source: The Print)

The protest which was initially planned to last for one day had gone on for nearly a week. It had halted VIP movement in the area, days before the Parliament’s winter session was about to start. Already unpopular because of the Bofors scandal and the resignation of VP Singh, Rajiv Gandhi and his government came under pressure. 

To quell the agitation, the govt then stopped water supply in and around the area. Food supply to the agitating farmers was thwarted. Deafening music was played in the dead of night to unsettle the farmers and their cattle. When the farmers refused to concede, the Rajiv Gandhi government had allegedly lathi-charged and opened fired on Mahendra Singh Tikait’s led farmers rally. Two farmers had probably died in the firing then.

Thus, we have a situation where the Congress party had unleashed great violence on farmers agitating for what appear to be actual demands and here, we have Priyanka Gandhi targeting the government and accusing it of targeting ‘farmers’ who are, quite clearly, not farmers but rioters and have Khalistanis in their ranks. Locals have demanded that the protesters vacate the sites as well and even villagers have demanded that the so-called farmers return to their homes.

Priyanka Gandhi is encouraging rioters and Khalistanis here, and painting them as ‘farmers’, while her own father had unleashed violence on actual farmers. It is quite ironic indeed. Moreover, the recently passed farm laws actually benefit farmers by providing them with more options. The recent protests, as evident from their unwillingness to negotiate with the government despite being offered numerous concessions, indicate a much more sinister play underway.

In 1997 as well, during the Multai agitation in Madhya Pradesh, the police then under the instructions of the Congress Govt had opened fired as the protests went violent. The farmers were seeking compensation for the damaged crops due to adverse weather. While the official count states 19 farmers lost their lives with over 150 injured, the unofficial count of the dead as per the activists is around 24. BJP was in opposition at that time. They equated the incident to the Jalianwala Bagh massacre.

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Searched termsPriyanka Gandhi
OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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