While targeting the protesters, the Modi government is using its draconian template of deploying the police and law-enforcement agencies to suppress democratic dissent.
By Rakesh Raman
As the Narendra Modi government unleashes Central agencies to silence its critics, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has started targeting leaders who are spearheading farm protests.
In a new case, the NIA has summoned a top farm union leader Baldev Singh Sirsa who is a member of the team which is negotiating with the Modi government to get the contentious farm laws repealed. He has been called for questioning for his alleged links with separatists.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Sirsa has been asked to appear at the NIA headquarters in New Delhi on January 17. Sirsa has accused the Modi government of derailing the farmers’ protest – first through the Supreme Court and then by using the NIA.
Although the NIA – which is India’s counter-terrorist task force – is supposed to deal with terror related crimes, it is being used by the Modi government to target ordinary citizens who raise their voice against the anti-people actions of the government.
Since the NIA does not require special permission from the state governments to file cases against individuals, it can implicate all those who question the Modi government.
Farm leader Sirsa is not alone who is being targeted by NIA. A number of other supporters of the farm agitation are being terrorized by the Central agency which works under the Modi government.
For example, a leading Punjabi film actor Deep Sidhu is on NIA’s hitlist, as his brother has been summoned by NIA through a notice. Deep Sidhu has been supporting the farmers’ protest since its beginning in Punjab where the demonstrations started a few months ago.
Rural Resistance: Protests by Farmers
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Now Deep Sidhu is participating in the permanent protest that hundreds of thousands of farmers are holding on the outskirts of India’s capital New Delhi since November 27. The Hindustan Times newspaper has quoted Deep Sidhu who said that the government is harassing his family members who have no links with his activism.
Deep Sidhu is known for his proximity to Bollywood actor Sunny Deol, who belongs to Modi’s political outfit Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is a Member of Parliament (MP) from Punjab’s Gurdaspur constituency.
As Sunny Deol is blindly supporting the farm laws introduced by the Modi government, farmers believe that he has betrayed the people of Punjab while behaving as a bootlicker of PM Modi.
While targeting the protesters, the Modi government is using its draconian template of deploying the police and law-enforcement agencies to suppress democratic dissent. It uses oppressive laws such as sedition, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA, and Public Safety Act (PSA) to detain and imprison peaceful protesters.
Although the global leaders repeatedly condemn the Modi government’s autocratic actions, there is no respite from the state excesses for the people of India.
Recently, British Labour Party MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi sent a letter, signed by over 100 MPs and Lords, to PM Boris Johnson on the ongoing farmers’ protests in India, asking him to raise this matter with PM Modi.
Dhesi also released a video in Punjabi language in which he has revealed how the Indian farmers faced brute force unleashed on them by the Indian police and security forces.
Canadian Prime Minister (PM) Justin Trudeau has also extended his support to the protesting Indian farmers. Trudeau was speaking at an online event on Facebook to mark the 551st birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 30 when he addressed the explosive situation in India.
As the Modi government is using force to stop the protesters who are holding peaceful demonstrations around Delhi, Trudeau said Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest.
The protesting farmers are again anticipating brutality from the government-backed security forces, as they have planned to hold a massive demonstration in the national capital New Delhi on India’s Republic Day – January 26.
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. He also runs F A C T (Farm And Crop Times) news magazine on global farming and agricultural affairs.
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