Modi Govt May Use Anti-Terror Laws to Crush Farmers’ Protests

Protesters during the farm protests in September 2020 are demanding the removal of PM Modi to save India from the impending disaster. Photo: Students Group NSUI
Protesters during the farm protests in September 2020 are demanding the removal of PM Modi to save India from the impending disaster. Photo: Students Group NSUI

There is a possibility that the Modi government will unleash police brutality on protesting farmers and may use anti-terror laws including sedition and UAPA against some farmers and their leaders.

By Rakesh Raman

A nationwide bandh (shutdown) was observed on September 25 in India, as the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) had given a call for the protest against three agriculture Ordinances introduced by the government headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers in India defied the safe-distancing coronavirus guidelines to protest on roads against the Modi government. The farmers – who are also supported by political parties and social activists – held placards that asked people to dethrone Modi to save India.

The agitation gained momentum after the Modi government passed on September 20 two of the three main farm Bills in the Rajya Sabha by voice vote amid uproar and protests by opposition leaders.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) in India also protested in the Parliament complex against the new farm laws announced by the government. Calling them anti-farmer Bills, the opposition MPs assert that the Bills were passed by the Modi government in an undemocratic way.

Reports suggest that total shutdown was observed in Punjab, and massive protests were held at several places in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and other Indian states.

This is the second major nationwide agitation during the past few months against the anti-people actions of the Modi government. In the beginning of this year, hundreds of thousands of Indians had occupied the streets to protest against the discriminatory citizenship laws such as the CAA or Citizenship Amendment Act introduced by the Modi government.

The anti-CAA protests – mostly led by students – triggered a communal violence in Delhi. At least 53 people (mostly Muslims) were murdered and hundreds of others got injured in February this year.

In order to suppress the anti-CAA protests, the Modi government – through Delhi Police which is controlled by home minister Amit Shah – used brutal force against peaceful protesters.

And now dozens of innocent protesters are being jailed or harassed by the police while they are being arbitrarily charged under the draconian anti-terror laws such as sedition and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA.

The ongoing farmers’ protests are much bigger in scale than the anti-CAA demonstrations. Since the Modi government is not willing to withdraw the new farming legislation, it is expected that farmers will intensify their movement across the country.

If that happens, there is a possibility that the Modi government will unleash police brutality on protesting farmers and may use anti-terror laws including sedition and UAPA against some farmers and their leaders. Farmers should be prepared for such an eventuality.

Meanwhile, a few pro-government miscreants have already started calling the protesting farmers as terrorists. The government has also deputed a rude minister Anurag Thakur to defend the new farm laws.

Anurag Thakur treats the peaceful protesters as traitors and gave a call during the anti-CAA protest to ‘shoot the traitors’ after which the mobs actually opened fire on protesters and subsequently the Delhi violence took place. The police and courts are so terrified or complicit in the unlawful act that they did not dare to take action against the rogue minister’s violent speech.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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Rakesh Raman