Singhu/Ghazipur: A day after the farmers’ tractor rally turned violent, the protest sites at Delhi borders — Singhu and Ghazipur — didn’t have the usual hustle-bustle, with the number of agitating farmers reducing manifold.
The size of the protest site at the Singhu border — the epicentre of the agitation against the Modi government’s three farm laws — has also reduced far more than Ghazipur.
Farmers have started returning home in the fear of detention and arrests in the aftermath of the violence Tuesday, saying “the cause has gone off the tracks”. They are also divided on the hoisting of the Nishan Sahib at Red Fort, which had sparked off a raging controversy.
Besides this, chants of ‘Hum ghaddar nahin hain’, ‘Deep Sidhu murdabad’, ‘Lakha Sidhana murdabad’ rent the air, instead of the ‘Jai Kisan Jai Jawan’ slogan that they would shout earlier.
Farmer unions under the umbrella organisation — Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) — pinned the blame on Sidhu, Lakha and the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) for the violence. The KMSC, which has a separate stage at Singhu, has also been isolated by the rest of the unions.
Two farmers unions — Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan and Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) — separated themselves from the ongoing farmer protesters at Delhi borders Wednesday.
The situation at the protest sites now reek of cracks among the farmers. The ambiance that was earlier filled with discussions, emotions, and sloganeering on Indian farmers has now vanished.
Also read: 3 reasons why Delhi Police failed to stop farmers from storming the heart of the capital
‘Everyone is distracted now’
Apart from those who had come a couple of before for the tractor rally, farmers from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, who had been at the sites for nearly two months, have started returning over fear of detention and arrests.
“I am leaving because my family back home is waiting for me. I came for a peaceful protest, not to get arrested for a violence I wasn’t a part of,” said Sukhbir Singh, a Haryana farmer, at Singhu.
Another farmer from UP, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “The situation has worsened, makes no sense to linger around here. If things are fine in a few days, we will return to join the peaceful protest. Everyone is distracted now, the cause has gone off the tracks.”
ThePrint reached Dependra Pathak, Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence), Delhi, through calls and messages, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
A police source had earlier told ThePrint that many of these farmers have started returning home over fear that they may be detained.
Delhi Police has detained over 200 people in connection with the violence and 22 FIRs have been registered.
Farmer leaders Rakesh Tikait, Vijender Singh Virk, V.M. Singh, Jagtaar Singh Bajwa, Rishipal Singh, Harpal Singh, Vinod Kumar, Darshan Pal, Rajinder Singh, Balbir Singh Rajewal, Buta Singh, Joginder Singh Ugraha, Gurnam Singh Chaduni, and Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav have been named in the FIRs.
Difference of opinion
Farmers that stood together against the three farm laws are now divided over the hoisting of the Sikh religious flag at Red Fort.
While some agreed that the flag shouldn’t have been hoisted at the historic monument, others saw no harm in it.
Farmers also had difference of opinion on whether protesters should have gone to Red Fort, breaking barricades in the first place.
“Hoisting of the flag should have never taken place. This was unnecessary escalation,” said Gurmeet Singh, who hails from Uttar Pradesh.
Sarabjeet Singh from Delhi, who has been doing sewa at Ghazipur, saw “no fault” in hoisting the Nishan Sahib at the Red Fort. “We didn’t disrespect the tricolour. There shouldn’t be a problem in hoisting the flag,” he said.
But Mandeep Singh, a farmer from Pilibhit, said, “It shouldn’t have happened. It was wrong. We should’ve gone there, saluted the national flag and come back. That wasn’t the objective of our protests.”
Balbir Singh, a UP farmer, added: “This is a farmers’ movement. There was no need to hoist a religious flag.”
Some of the farmers blamed the police for delay in action and said a conspiracy was hatched to “discredit” their agitation.
“Red Fort is a place where the PM hoists the tricolour. Why wasn’t there enough security? Why were those protesters allowed to enter and create ruckus,” said Manjeet Singh, a farmer from Chandigarh.
Sukhir Jhakkar, a Haryana farmer, however, said, “Even if someone put the Khalsa flags there, what is the harm in it? This is a conspiracy to divide us.”
Samundar Singh, a farmer from Haryana, added: “There was high infiltration during the tractor rally, which led to all of these.”
Ram Singh, a Punjab farmer, however, believed that the violence was the result of a pent-up frustration against the government.
Gurnam Singh Charuni, a leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Haryana), told ThePrint it was someone from the banned outfit Sikhs for Justice who hoisted the Khalsa flag at the Red Fort. Some reports have identified him as a youth from Vaan Tara Singh village of Punjab’s Tarn Taran district.
Charuni added, “We should have never agreed to the routes by the Delhi Police.”
Farmers union leaders under SKM condemned the violence and said they had “nothing to do with the ugly turn of events”.
Also read: How farmers lost control and stormed Delhi — unions blame actor-activist and ex-gangster
The Red Fort route
Many farmers at Singhu and Ghazipur said they had no clue about the Red Fort route. Some even said they only followed others and didn’t know the accepted routes.
“We started from here (Singhu) at around 11.30 am, and were waiting for the police to give us a go-ahead. By the time we reached the Mukarba chowk, the barricades were already broken, we didn’t go far from there,” said Paramjit Singh, a farmer from Punjab.
Ramandeep Kaur, another farmer from Punjab, said, “We had nothing to do with the violence. We heard that the barricades were broken, and we stayed back. We had no idea that they were going to Red Fort.”
Jagan Singh, a farmer from Haryana, added: “We only reached Red Fort at 3 pm following the rest of the tractors, we didn’t know the exact route, but by then the clash had started. We didn’t enter the Fort’s premises.”
SKM members at the protest sites also denied entering the Red Fort.
“We didn’t enter the Red Fort, nor did we know of the plan. We just reached outside the premises and returned,” said Gurmeet Singh, an SKM member.
Also read: Fresh talks offer ‘unlikely’ now — Modi govt could harden stand on farm laws after violence
People running around and attacking police with swords. What kind of agitation is this?
There are so many videos, at least a thousand people should be put behind bars.
All along, the Centre has been screaming that the farmer’s protest has been infiltrated by Khalistani elements. But none paid heed. The liberal/secular media dismissed it as utter rubbish, a figment of imagination.
Now, the Centre stands vindicated. The “protest” has indeed been hijacked by Khalistani elements.
The nation saw what happened at the Red Fort and neither will it forget nor will it forgive.
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