On July 8, ‘andolanjeevi’ farmers and arhatiyas launched a protest across Punjab and Haryana against the rising price of cooking gas. A protester was heard saying, “gas cylinder is cheaper in Nepal and Bangladesh. Modi government has messed it up.” When a reporter asked him why they were protesting over the gas cylinder price amidst protests against agriculture laws, he said, “No, we will protest against anything that has been troubling the common man.”
At Ghazipur border, Delhi— Smita Prakash (@smitaprakash) July 8, 2021
Protestor: Nepal Bangladesh mey diesel, gas cylinder sasta hai yahaan mehenga hai. Modi govt has messed up.
Reporter: But this was an area for protesting farm laws
Protestor: No, we will protest against anything troubling the common man pic.twitter.com/9N0AdV1bKr
The alleged farmers started their current protest after a call by Samyukt Kisan Morcha to protest against a hike in fuel and cooking gas prices between 10 AM to 12 PM on July 8. The protestors parked their tractors and other vehicles on the roadside and raised slogans against the central government. These protests were held at several locations, including Mohali, Amritsar, Moga, Rupnagar and Ludhiana in Punjab and Gohana, Sirsa and Sonipat in Haryana.
It is pertinent to note here that Rakesh Tikait has repeatedly asserted that their “protest” will carry on till the 2024 elections, making it amply clear that the aim of these protests, which took a violent turn on the 26th of January, is purely political and has nothing to do with the farm laws themself. It is for that reason that these so-called farmers have found themselves protesting against issues that have nothing to do with the farm laws at all.
Here are some of the issues that these purported “farmers” protested against and got involved in:
West Bengal Elections
Rakesh Tikait, one of the “firebrand” andolanjeevi and alleged farmer leader, went to West Bengal to campaign against Bharatiya Janata Party in the state elections. On March 13, he reached West Bengal and held several rallies to build mood against BJP. However, the number of persons attending his rallies was negligible. Interestingly, in an undated video during his West Bengal visit, he was welcomed with chants of “Narendra Modi Zindabad”.
It has to be noted here Kisan Union leaders who had almost nil attendance in their rallies in WB claim to have caused the defeat of BJP in the state. If they are to be believed, they should be held responsible for the violence unleashed against the BJP workers and supporters in West Bengal post-elections.
Farmer Unions planning to contest Punjab elections
Punjab Assembly elections will be held in early 2022. Kisan leader Gurnam Singh Charuni had recently announced that the Kisan leaders should contest assembly elections in Punjab. He alleged no party is working for their benefits, so they should contest the elections and “bring the necessary change in the system”. Though BJP has welcomed them to contest election as it is their constitutional right, it is evident that the real intent of the protests is not to raise a voice for the betterment of the farmers but to address the political motives of the ‘Kisan leaders’.
The Kisan leaders have not limited themselves to Punjab, Haryana or Delhi. Their aim seems spread hate against BJP across the country. They want to “defeat” BJP in the upcoming Assembly Elections in Uttar Pradesh scheduled for 2022. To push their ‘mission’, they are holding a Mahapanchayat on September 5, which would be followed by several programs and rallies across the state. As farmer leaders, they should have constructive talks with the union and state governments to get the laws amend if they feel there is a problem with the three agriculture laws passed in September 2020. However, instead of getting on the table with the Union government, they are causing disturbance across the country.
Free the Naxals and terrorists
Interestingly, the alleged farmers protesting at the Delhi borders have raised voice to free Naxals and terrorists lodged in different jails across the country. On December 10, 2020, it was reported that agitating farmers held posters of Urban Naxals and those accused of orchestrating riots that killed Hindus and demanded their release. Photographs of protesters emerged holding posters of terrorist sympathisers and enablers such as Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bhardwaj, Varvara Rao, Anand Teltumbde, and riot accuses such as Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Khalid Saifi, Natasha Narwal etc.
On April 11, 2021, in an interesting turn of events, supporters of the farmer protests used the hashtag #FreeJaggiNow to push for the release of multiple-murder accused Jagtar Singh Johal. When OpIndia dug into the propaganda, we found that the hashtag was not only promoted on Twitter but other platforms as well. They are painting Johal as a “good man who was ‘illegally’ detained by the Punjab Police in 2017”. Interestingly, the hashtags #FreeJaggiNow and #FreeJaggi have been making rounds for months without raising any red flags.
CAA-NRC andolanjeevis at Farmer Protests
It is not hard to connect two notorious protests against the Union government in recent times. Several ‘professional protestors’ came running to join farmer protests as they had nothing to do after the CAA-NRC protests. The ‘Holy Trinity of protests in India did not waste time to provide support to farmer protests.
We are, of course, referring to ‘PIL Activist’ Prashant Bhushan, ‘Love Caravan’ Harsh Mander and ‘Ichchhadhaari protester’ Yogendra Yadav. Interestingly, Yadav has been sitting on Delhi borders, posing as a farmer. Notably, he was thrown out of meeting between farmer leaders and Union government as he is, in fact, not a farmer.
Another set of pro-protestors that took advantage was the infamous Dadi Bilkis Bano of Shaheen Bagh. She visited the protest site on December 1. A few videos and statements of hers went viral on social media, but soon, unfortunately for her, the fame she collected during CAA-NRC protests did not give enough base to continue at the farmer protest sites.
Takeover by Khalistanis
There is no denying that Khalistani forces have taken over the farmer protests in the most notorious way possible. So much so, a group of alleged protesters barged into Red Fort premises on Republic Day and created havoc. They created a riot-like situation in Delhi on the R-Day and caused damage to properties worth crore. Over 300 police personnel were reportedly injured. The Khalistani terrorist organisation, Sikhs For Justice, had announced a cash reward for those who would raise Khalistan flag on Red Fort. As a result, alleged protestors, including Deep Sidhu and others, hoisted two flags with the Sikh holy symbol on Red Fort.
The ongoing farmer protests have been tainted with countless allegations. The protesters have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, including allegations of rape, sexual harassment and even murder. They have destroyed hundreds of mobile towers in Punjab and blocked warehouses of supermarket chains to mark protests against the agriculture laws. It is unclear who provoke the naïve ‘farmers’ who have joined the protests, but one thing is clear that the agenda is not limited to the Agriculture laws.