Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeOpinionsThe illegal and unconstitutional Republic of Singhu is now a fully functional dictatorship

The illegal and unconstitutional Republic of Singhu is now a fully functional dictatorship

Who can set the people free? Modern capitalism. Yes, modern capitalism, for all its faults, is what sets people free from the brutal feudal system. Remember the 1991 revolution? It was nothing less than a rebirth for the Indian nation.

I have heard of the Indo-Pak border, as well as the Indo-China border. But if you have followed the news at any point during the last twelve months, you would have heard of this mysterious frontier known as “Singhu border.” Where exactly is this Singhu border?

That is how it all began. In Nov 2020, a group of so called protesters, originating somewhere in Punjab, began to smash their way across Haryana towards Delhi. When they arrived, they set up their camps on the highways and cut off all access to Delhi. It was a spectacle. India’s capital was suddenly under siege. And folks on all sides of the political divide began to call it “Singhu border.”

Yes, it was an innocuous term to begin with. It had probably already been in use by locals, to refer to the border between Delhi & Haryana. But suddenly, like Doklam or Siachen, everyone in India came to know about “Singhu border.”

This is not an isolated example. Other terminology commonly used for military deployments, was soon in use. The protesters said they had arrived with “rations” to stay all winter and more. As if there is no rice, wheat nor dal available in Delhi. As if grain to feed the protesters has to be carted all the way from Punjab. But it fed into the mentality that the protesters are troops of some kind, who need to have supply chains and stores in order to stay put in hostile territory.

Go watch the coverage at the time these protests began. Folks getting on their tractors and caravans to report as if on some kind of border conflict. How many people in this caravan? How much food are you carrying? And how do you plan to stay warm? And how long do you think you can stay put?

The answers were in a similar tone. This or that group of farmers is doing “kooch” they said. And we swallowed it. If someone died anywhere for any reason, they were declared “shaheed.” We let these assertions go by unchallenged. If the protesters were delusional, we all reinforced it.

The government pampered them by letting them set up a no-go zone right outside Delhi. That was the biggest mistake of all, right on the lines of Shaheen Bagh. The folks at Shaheen Bagh had their own illegal security forces and even some kind of “passport control.” I can only assume there was something similar happening at Singhu “border.”

Soon, their language became even more militant. Every Republic Day, the Indian Army marches down Rajpath with a show of tanks and fighter planes. The folks at Singhu border wanted to parody this with their own “tractor march.” Riding their tractors as if they are pretend tanks, they entered Delhi. There they plowed into police forces, trying to crush them under their big wheels. They should all have been arrested then and there.

Incidentally, at the time, I had written an article explaining that a tractor may feel like a tank just because it is big and loud, but it is not. I had noticed a number of viral videos showing the tractors overturning as people tried to ride them at reckless speed. A tank is very stable; it has a low center of gravity. A tractor is quite the opposite. It has a high center of gravity and is therefore prone to overturn if you try to ride it like a fool. But who needs physics when you have ‘liberalism’? Or a hereditary zamindari that comes with caste based political clout. And mafia like control over hapless farm laborers from poorer states and backward sections of society.

Anyway, I digressed. The storming of the Red Fort on Jan 26 should have been a watershed moment. It should have led to a spate of arrests and immediate folding up of this so called movement. It did not. The government let it pass.

What do we have now? We have exactly what you would expect. The illegal and unconstitutional Republic of Singhu is now a fully functional dictatorship. All law is martial, enforced by a fanatical religious police. And we have a poor farm laborer, a Dalit executed in full Taliban style, limbs chopped off and strung up publicly to bleed to death. Like the new Taliban, these protesters understand the power of the internet as a medium. So they made sure that the gruesome killing was captured on video and put up on social media. That is Indian liberalism today.

All they want is an “inclusive” society, for they are “country boys” enforcing their ancient “code of honor.” No, I am not talking of the folks at Singhu. I am talking about how the head of the British military recently described the Taliban.

This brings us to the question of religion and what role it played in the so called protest and in the setting up of the illegal Republic of Singhu. From Day one, it was clear that the protests had a very clear religious dimension. The so called leaders of this so called movement welcomed this religious dimension. They celebrated it. They played the religion card enthusiastically to win support for their cause. And they didn’t think twice about their supporters overtly displaying their support for Bhrindanwale. Even after their supporters stormed the Red Fort and planted a certain flag, they never once disavowed the religious card.

Religion and agricultural laws. It is the liberals who wove the two things together. And very explicitly so. Today when there is a horrific crime at the spot, the so called leaders of this movement cannot escape blame by pointing fingers at some religious sect.

Let’s ask this. Who brought the members of that religious sect there to guard the protest site? If the protesters saw themselves as civilians like the rest of us, they would have depended on the police to maintain law and order. But they didn’t. They saw themselves as an invading army out to seize hostile territory. That’s why they brought everything with them, from food supplies to their own armed forces, and presumably their own system of law.

Listen to the mediapersons talking to people at the spot. The protesters refer to the particular religious sect as the “fauj.” And they describe what happened to the poor laborer as a “sazaa.” Nobody challenges them on these assertions.

The liberals set up this illegal republic and its religious police force. They cannot excuse themselves now by blaming some religious sect. If Indian liberalism depends on armed religious police to make its case, then the gruesome murder of Lakhbir Singh is part of that liberalism.

There is also a message here for city dwellers, social media influencers, or anyone else who might be caught up in the sentimentalism around these protests. The image that these people have tried to project is that they are simple farmers, trying to protect their traditional way of life from the ruthless forces of modern capitalism.

In reality, these protesters are rich landholders who sit at the top of a brutal village hierarchy. These protesters did not jump out of some idyllic painting of village life, showing a man plowing the field with a pair of bullocks or a woman carrying a pot of water on her head. They protect a ruthless system that locks people into strict roles based on how they are born, into caste based and gender based roles. Look closely and you will realize that the man plowing the field might have wanted to become a doctor. The woman carrying the water on her head might have dreamed of becoming an engineer or a scientist. But the system that the zamindars follow does not allow for such hopes and dreams. Just see what they did to a poor Dalit farm laborer they suspected of stepping out of line, becoming a “government agent.”

Who can set the people free? Modern capitalism. Yes, modern capitalism, for all its faults, is what sets people free from the brutal feudal system. Remember the 1991 revolution? It was nothing less than a rebirth for the Indian nation. Everything around us is better today because of that moment. Who weakened the shackles of gender and caste? Who set our dreams free? It was modern capitalism.

But that revolution did not touch the agricultural sector. These three new agricultural laws are a way for economic reform to touch the lives of 55 percent of Indians who depend on agriculture. No, they don’t have to flee from the villages. They don’t have to live dismal lives in big city slums because they know even that is better than being a serf in the village. But the zamindars don’t want change. They want the old system to continue. They want everyone to live and die within the old informal system. Because it works for them (and only for them).

You know the word ‘annadata’ is an old form of salutation in the villages. Those who actually work the land had to use this salutation to address those who own the land. If they didn’t show the zamindars enough respect, the poor laborers used to risk being thrashed. That is the system the zamindars want to keep. That is why they have gathered at Singhu, demanding that we address them as “annadata.”

Go back and watch the video again, if you dare. Look into the eyes of poor Lakhbir Singh, begging for his life. And tell me now: which system do you like better?

Join OpIndia's official WhatsApp channel

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

Related Articles

Trending now

Rahul Gandhi slams Union Budget 2024 as ‘Kursi Bachao’ but says it a ‘copy and paste’ of Congress Manifesto: Decoding his ‘Kehna Kya Chahte...

Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday lambasted the Union Budget 2024, but said that it was copied from Congress manifesto and previous budgets.

Budget 2024: P Chidambaram and Shashi Tharoor take credit after BJP abolishes angel tax, forgets how Congress introduced it in 2012

Congress' P Chidambaram took cognizance of the event and targeted the govt for taking so long to abolish the so-called tax. He said that the Congress had pleaded for the abolition of the angel tax and finally the Finance Minister announced it today. Ironically, it was Congress who had made changes in the Income Tax Act to introduce the Angel Tax.

Recently Popular

- Advertisement -