File photo | A protester at the Singhu border | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
File photo | A protester at the Singhu border | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
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The izzat of the Kisan and the Jawan is now at stake in India, because every soldier is a farmer in uniform.

Once the farmers’ protests moved to Delhi, a large number of military veterans joined them at the Singhu border. But the agony of being labeled as ‘Khalistan supporters’ and anti-national must have surely hurt their feelings. For the first time, Vijay Diwas, commemorating the 1971 war victory, was celebrated by veterans at Singhu on 16 December.

Many who took part in the war were prepared to return their medals to the President in protest against the farm laws. In India, the farmers and the soldiers are two sides of the same coin. For generations, rural families in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have been sending their children to the Army. Reports of few serving soldiers on leave joining the protest also popped up on social media platforms. The issue is serious and can’t be glossed over by the government and the armed forces.

Media campaign targeting farmers 

A section of very eager and zealous media started a vicious campaign to target the farmers as ‘Khalistani’ supporters. The narrative started to build when farmers’ organisations were accused of having been ‘infiltrated’ by ‘Urban Naxals’, ‘tukde tukde gang’, etc. Many started to blame Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and China for funding the agitation. Questions started to appear on the ‘quality’ and ‘type’ of farmers sitting at the protest sites. English-speaking, clothed Western wear, pizza-eating men could not be farmers? The sad part is that many leaders from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were at the forefront of this skullduggery.

This was hitting below the belt on the izzat and ego of farmers. The popular image of the poor Indian farmer working to feed the nation was being defied. Potshots of all kind, including the availability of good food at the langars, became a regular feature on TV and social media. To discredit the movement, a campaign was launched, directly aimed at humiliating the farming community.

Also read: Army plans disciplinary action against soldier at farmers’ protest, troops being sensitised

The lineage of farmers

The protesting farmers, a majority of whom are Jats from Haryana, Rajasthan and Western UP, and Jat Sikhs from Punjab, have few things in common and their historical lineage is a part of it. They consider dignity, honour and prestige to be of paramount importance. They are fiercely proud people and don’t like to be belittled and accused of being part of any anti-national conspiracy. This is in their DNA.

The kind of vicious slander that we are seeing now has started to hurt them badly. The accusations are flying thick and fast, without any thought to the sentiments of the farmers braving a harsh winter on the roads away from their families.

Are we playing with fire?

Those indulging in the slander campaign against farmers gave little thought to the fact that it’s the same stock who are defending India, the same families whose sons and daughters proudly serve the Army for generations. Are we playing with fire here? Can we, as a nation, afford to upset and hurt the feelings of communities that have been farmers and soldiers for generations? What impact does this kind of negative portrayal have on the psyche of the young soldiers at our borders? ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ seems to have become mere rhetoric.

Social media has made deep inroads into our lives. The Army can’t be isolated from this because most soldiers own smartphones and are quite tech-savvy. In fact, technology has flattened our society so much that similar content is available in rural and urban India at the same time.

At Tikri, Gazipur and Singhu, the Army veterans present are openly wearing their medals (though against service norms). Many of these same veterans have children in active service now. What is the message being sent to them?

Also read: Modi govt has lost farm laws battle, now raising Sikh separatist bogey will be a grave error

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan

The bulk of the soldiers from this region are from the Jat, Sikh, Rajputana Rifles, the Grenadiers, Rajput regiments as also from Armoured and Artillery units. If their kith and kin stand accused of being part of separatist groups or indulging in anti-national activities at the behest of enemy countries, the serving soldiers too are bound to feel offended.

Social media and WhatsApp groups continue to be flooded with pro- and anti-farmer content – some pure propaganda and some based on half-truths at best.

Can India afford this kind of narrative when we are in a huge standoff against China? What would be going on in the minds of a young soldier standing on guard at a high-altitude post in subzero temperatures? Especially if their family members have been sitting at Delhi’s borders for over two months now. The obstacles – rods, cement, spikes – created by the Delhi Police after the Republic Day eruption are not only scary but outrightly offensive.

After all, serving soldiers are human beings and the events going on in their village concern them. Imagine this being discussed among soldiers of pure class units on a daily basis over the last five months? The protests being a political issue, there may not be any advisory issued by the Army. Even the officers probably will avoid discussing the merits or demerits of the farm laws and their implications on the families of the soldiers. For their sake, let’s stop the false narrative against the farmers. If any radical elements are indeed part of the agitation, isolate them and prosecute them.

In some form, the ghosts of 1984 are coming to haunt us again. Name-calling and deliberate attempt to vilify large sections of our farming communities must stop. In fact, defence minister Rajnath Singh did condemn this in one of his interviews. However, many leaders of the ruling party are still adding fuel to fire.

This agitation if allowed to fester for long can go from a law-and-order issue to a national security issue. Let’s uphold the dignity and honour of our farmers and soldiers. And find an honourable exit from the issue. Let India in unison say, ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’. A phrase identified with Lal Bahadur Shastri, widely respected for his leadership during the 1965 war.

Maj General Yash Mor was born and brought up in a village in Hisar district of rural Haryana. He is the third generation in the Army and belongs to a farmer-soldier family. He writes on leadership and strategic issues. Views are personal.  

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  1. So-called farmers amassed at the border of NCT Delhi are using the out-dated weaponry of WW-I and WW-II vintage –that is Gherao of Delhi that was perfected by the British loyalists of congress party showing of their fake -Resistance . The so-called protesters even know that there case is academically and economically weak as they have not been able to spell out the deficiencies in alleged harmful piece of legislation either to the Government or to the Supreme Court appointed Expert Committee. . Can any army win war in 2020 s with outdated weapons of 1910-1945 vintage.? Similarly this agitation is bound to go into History as futile exercise to blackmail the government and peaceful citizens. Agriculture is an old economic activity that was pursued by more than 80 % people at one time , but as mankind made progress . the share of people engaged in this activity started reducing and is reducing. That this trend will continue for next 100 years . When any profession or vocation becomes uneconomic ,it is rational to leave it by its adherents. Even armed forces of today don t require huge manpower but technologically trained high caliber personnel. What we are seeing today on borders of Delhi ,is an agitation in the name of farmers , as A Group of EXTRA RICH FARM-OWNERS who have enough spare time and money to indulge into luxury of picnics as for weeks together they are enjoying the feast . Of coarse petty aspiring politician like of Yadavas , perennial disruptor like of RG s have lent their –ALWAYS SPARE HAND to their agitation . If this agitation to be Modi -Hatao Movement , .It is TOO-EARLY . as 2024 is three years away and Modi and his party has enough of time and breed of high caliber leadership to come up with its tactics and strategies to counter any perceived threat to their plans to adore to the office of PM of India. with even greater majority.

  2. Honestly, I haven’t read the complete article. The title linking the protesting ‘farmers’ to faujis was sufficient to understand the bias and stupidity of the author. Yes, it was one of the greatest Prime Ministers of the country who gave us the slogan of Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan. He died under mysterious circumstances in a foreign land and the greatest (and possibly the only) beneficiary of his death was Indira Gandi. Who, of course cheated the soldiers first. After the glorious military victory of 1971 she reduced the pension of soldiers from 70 percent of last pay drawn to less than 25 percent of the last pay drawn while increasing the pension of her clerks from 33 percent to 50 percent. The gross injustice was corrected to some extent only by the NDA government led by Narendra Modi in 2016. And the number of farmers who have committed suicide till 2014 must be in lakhs, if not in millions. Again, it has been left to the same dispensation under Narendra Modi to alleviate the misery of the farmers, by getting them out of the clutches of politician led mafia of middle men and money lenders.

    The only slogan that Indira Gandi gave us was Garibi Hatao. And that has remained an empty slogan as history proved it.

  3. Unfortunately one doesn’t agree with what the author asserts in his writeup.
    Agreed the soldiers come from rural background but not predominantly from the areas where farmers are agitating.
    Why soldiers even the local police and officials come from the peasantry.
    The ex soldiers are being used as a cannon fodder by all political parties.
    Display of their medals for agitations is strictly prohibited.
    The author has done a great disservice by establishing the corelation between Kisan and Jawan from a narrow perspective.

  4. Yes the agitations shouldn’t be called anti-national.
    But now you need to agree that the farm laws are pro-national and raiding the red-fort was anti national.
    There’s no reason to believe all protesting farmers have sent their kids to the army.
    And even if they did, that doesn’t give them the right to do violence on the red fort. What kind of sick analogy is this..

  5. The govt offered to suspend the laws for one and a half years. That was an honourable exit farmers could have taken.

  6. I might not agree with you on the content of this article as Modi government is the one who implemented One Rank One Pension scheme and this helped many of the retired jawans and they know it. I will reflect on this below snippet from your article.
    “This agitation if allowed to fester for long can go from a law-and-order issue to a national security issue. Let’s uphold the dignity and honour of our farmers and soldiers. And find an honourable exit from the issue. ”

    It went to law-and-order issue long time ago, when mobile towers were destructed, dmanage done to to the red fort and daming toll plazas. If the farmer leaders want an honourable exit, they should accept the Government condition of abeyance of the laws for 1.5 years. Unfortunately they have overplayed their hand by being stubborn by not taking the supreme court recommendations. If they would have done that, they could have claimed moral victory and went home long time back. In any negotiations, there should be a give and take approach.

  7. Dear army man. Thank you for your service.

    Now kindly refrain from issues not in your domain. DO NOT EQUATE THE ARMY WITH YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES.

    You write: “after the Republic Day eruption” …
    Yes, like the vomit you have erupted here.

    Please also note how Washington DC has become a fortress with walls, razor wires and blocks of concrete everywhere. And the violence at Capitol Hill was nothing compared to the terrible orgy of violence our “humble” farmers unleashed on the most sacred red letter day of the Republic. Shame on you for endorsing such violence.

  8. Soldier-ing is largely a profession of the peasentry in our country and many other parts of the world. We should respect the stock from where our soldiers come.

  9. Sir, while everyone is sympathetic to the farmer’s cause, it is difficult to understand how sticking to single point agenda of repeal of a law passed by parliament instead of working on how to change the law for better, will help in resolving the cause. Also are the farmer’s protesting without being influenced by political agenda as most of their leaders are from Communist party and Congress including people like Yogendra Yadav? Common person is confused on whether it is politics or genuine grievance ?

  10. Name calling of farm protesters is definitely condemnable.

    However, the farm laws are unequivocally good for the country including the farmers. Current and former officers of the military should not wade into this debate and remain non-partisan.

  11. Great article, but the same thing could have been written by avoiding caste names. Farmers issues are not only specific to a region or some Communities.

  12. I am a serving fauji and grandson of farmer too…it is a bakwaas ..may be individual view…not general view….this is all BAKWAAS…

  13. Sikhs are revered in India, no matter which state you are from. Sikhs are loved and will be so. Farm laws are necessary for the country. That has nothing to do with any community. They should negotiate with the Government instead of a hard stand. And also please don’t be influenced by the jokers from abroad.

  14. What kind of excrement is this! Countries which revere soldiers and farmers are poor and unhealthy and depend on other countries for their security, so basically they are bad at soldiering and bad at food production.
    Countries who revere scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are both healthy and strong. I don’t need to name names but starting from our immediate West look at countries which give undue importance to soldiers and farmers and see their condition.
    Need introspection, if we want to become a stronger nation we need to stop eulogizing money sinks unproductive sectors like farming and soldiering. Azerbaijan wiped out Armenian soldiers by push of buttons, need to learn from that.

  15. So much of stupid nonsense in one article. Actually all of us are farmers as , some generations ago we all were growing our own food.
    Also not one word in this biased article about so called farmers hoisting a religious flag in red fort and doing beijjati of our national flag. Was that soldierly ? No real soldier or their parents will try to cover up that crime, like this author is trying to do.

  16. Yes, So. While full respect to Soldiers and Kissan. They are doing what any patriotic person will do. So, the person who is working and paying Tax for subsidies etc is not important and patriotic.

  17. The farmers in uniform are not led by ANDOLANKARIES.
    They are led by GENERALS and the likes of Major BABU who was seen in the front row.

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