Police to Stop Protesting Farmers from Entering Covid-Infected Delhi

Punjab farmers protesting against the farm laws imposed by the Modi government. Photo: Shiromani Akali Dal
Punjab farmers protesting against the farm laws imposed by the Modi government. Photo: Shiromani Akali Dal

In the absence of a wise leader who can unite and educate the farmers, a number of splintered farmer organizations are holding totally directionless demonstrations that lack intellectual component.

By Rakesh Raman

Although the farmers’ protests against the new farm laws have largely failed, farmers have announced to hold demonstrations in New Delhi on November 26 and 27.

While it was supposed to be an all-India protest, in the absence of sufficient participation from other states, the Punjab farmers are coming to Delhi, although they have not been given permission to enter the national capital.

In a warning message, Delhi Police – which is controlled by PM Narendra Modi’s government – has denied permission to farmers with the excuse that the farmers’ gathering will spread coronavirus in Delhi.

The Delhi Police tweeted today (November 25) that all the requests received from various farmer organizations regarding protest in Delhi on November 26 and 27 have been rejected and this has already been communicated to the organizers.

The tweet also requested protesting farmers to cooperate with Delhi Police to ensure that no gathering takes place in Delhi amid coronavirus, failing which legal action will be initiated as per law.

Earlier, the Modi government had used Delhi Police to impose coronavirus restrictions on protesters who were protesting in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), and National Population Register (NPR) announced by the Modi government.

The Shaheen Bagh protest had ended abruptly in March this year (2020). Similarly, the Modi government is trying to scuttle farmers’ protest under the pretext of coronavirus.

Of late, the Modi government has passed 3 connected Bills to make them laws. These are: the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.

Currently, some farmers in India are protesting against the Modi government and the new laws. Farmers fear that these laws will deprive them of their farming rights and they will lose their lands which will be grabbed by Modi’s capitalist friends.

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Although a few farmers across the nation oppose Modi government’s decision, the epicenter of the dwindling movement is Punjab which contributes the lion’s share to the Indian agriculture sector.

The Modi government has refused to withdraw the farm laws and Modi has accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers who are protesting against these laws.

Today, as their protests are on the verge of collapse, farmers are virtually begging the Modi government for some concessions such as the minimum support price (MSP) – a price guaranteed by the government to buy some of the crops.

The main reason for the failure of farmers’ protests is farmers’ illiteracy and lack of knowledge in the evolving agriculture business. In the absence of a wise leader who can unite and educate the farmers, a number of splintered farmer organizations are holding totally directionless demonstrations that lack intellectual component.

While most local political outfits in Punjab such as Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and Modi’s party BJP are reluctant to participate openly in farmers’ agitation, they keep giving halfhearted statements.

For example, the SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal in his tweet said today (November 25) that the Modi government’s confrontation with farmers is pushing Punjab and the country towards chaos.

Badal added that the ongoing conflict between Punjab and Delhi can lead to an unpleasant situation and he urged PM Modi to intervene to address farmers’ grievances.

“By stopping Punjab farmers from peacefully exercising their democratic rights, the Center (Modi government) is repeating 1980 when the Akalis were stopped from entering Delhi to protest. Painful history must not be forced to repeat itself,” Badal said.

As farmers’ protests are happening in different areas of Punjab, Congress leader and Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has ordered a series of new restrictions, including night curfew from December 1, with the excuse to contain coronavirus in the state.

However, it is believed that Amarinder Singh – who is a weak politician – is taking instructions from the Modi government to derail farmers’ agitation.

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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