Archive for the ‘Punjab’ Category

8
Feb

PANJAB: Review in Rashtriya Sahara

   Posted by: aman

Dear Friends,

I feel touched that one and a half year after PANJAB Journeys Through Fault Lines appeared, it keeps getting reviewed. Also, in these farmers protests, so many references to the book in news items quoting me. Humbled.

Thank you Ashutosh Takhur.

Please read here …

 

Jan 28, 2021

So thankful to anonymous who put up the translation of my post in Hindi on twitter.

Please see here …

8
Feb

Farmers Protest: Tikait’s Tears

   Posted by: aman

Jan 28, 2021, late evening

Dear Nation,

#FarmersProtest is not a circus, a spectacle for all to go ooh! ah! at a leader of Rakesh Tikait stature to be crying on national media. He is not crying for himself. He is crying because he has taken a stand: support the Sikhs, support the farmers of the nation.

In the 1980s, the narrative was twisted so much that the whole nation believed Sikhs were wrong. After the 1990s, the nation moved at such a breath taking speed that urban India forgot the rural India.

Tikait is crying because he stands with his brothers, with his land. This means so much to me who was growing up in the 1980s and saw the discourse on Sikhs turn from soldiers and farmers to traitors and terrorists. I find a warm embrace in his tears.

Would the nation give this warm embrace to its Sikhs, to its farmers? You know I have been active from Day 1 of the protests, just so we do not have a repeat of the 1980s. Just that much. I was a little boy then, an adult now. Would my understanding of India then and now be the same? Then what is the use of my life? Is it too much to ask? Is it too much to ask that we stand up against injustice and live in this nation?

Ask yourself: what you can do? Amplify the protests, reject the Hindutva propaganda machinery. Why does Tikait have to wait for his village to get him water? He has come to your home Dilli.

Dilli, we saw your big heart to January 26. Now once again please, get out on the streets to preserve the Ghazipur protest site. Get them water. Get them electricity.

Do it! Please.

Day 64

#FarmersProtest

Makhad Jaal – Spider’s Web

1. Yesterday, was a day of great morale recovery. Leaders addressed farmers all day at Singhu and Tikri. It helped people process their emotions.

2. Ghazipur was in mourning over loss of a life, in confusion over what happened on Republic Day at Red Fort and ITO – lathi-charge and teargassing. By last afternoon it was clear the police had played mischief. It had blocked the approved route for the Tractor March, pushed farmers towards Red Fort and ITO. ‘Dilli eik Makhad Jaal hai’ says Tikait – Spider’s Web. Once you see the game, you find your bearings. Morale is high again.

3. Late last night, current was cut at Ghazipur. Farmers were on high alert all night to avert any adverse police action. They had learnt from what had happened on January 25th night – thousands of undesired infiltrators had entered the site for the Tractor March on 26th. The night remained free of incident.

4. Government is tightening screws: it has filed FIRs on farmer leaders blaming them for the disruption during Tractor March, evicted those who were sitting on Haryana toll plazas. Many from Shahjahanpur Morcha had already gone back home, police trying to evict the rest. Police also evicted the Baghpat site on Delhi-Saharanpur highway.

5. There is enough evidence now that the Red Fort fracas was a planned stunt. Though it did distract on the day of the Tractor March, I normally give a new twist 48 hours to assess if it sticks. This distraction has also paled. But yes, it has given the government a handle to trouble the protestors. Let us see how it plays out.

By and large, in terms of emotions and numbers, the protests are back at where they were on Jan 20th. They are going strong. Yes, the government and administration is getting rougher. It is time to weather their many actions.

Personally, unions decision to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination day as ‘Praschit Diwas – Day of Atonement’ is a great reminder to all of us of what we have made this nation over the last 72 years. Would just like to add, atonement need not only be observed, but it should lead to actions that help us stitch the tears in our society. We should all commit ourselves to it.

Stay collected, focus on real issue: Farm Laws and MSP. Any farmer weathers many sudden adversities: untimely rains, diseases, crop failure, prices crashes. Yet, the farmer, tied to land, continues to stand by his khet – land. That is the farmer’s nature.

Dear Friends,

Despite the silly flag incident, a few unfortunate skirmishes, consider the magnitude of what happened in Delhi yesterday. Around 2 lakh tractors, at least 7-9 lakh famers asserted their right to walk into their national capital on the day we mark to renew our pledge to live by our Constitution. This with no damage to any person, private or public property.

While most of our ‘national’ media has surrendered so abjectly to the regime, true news now survives on local internet media and sometimes in international media.

FRANCE 24 journalist, Leela Jacinto wrote about what happened, interviewed me. I said:

On government:

‘Modi has harvested decades of agrarian anger with the farm laws. Today’s events show that the state underestimated the might of the people.’
On Sanyukt Kisan Morcha: ‘Nobody understood why the decision was made to route the protest by keeping farmers on the outskirts of Delhi. The SKM didn’t spend enough effort to make the people understand. I think the SKM also underestimated the farmers by deciding everyone should follow the route.’

Thank you Leela. Please read here …

Dear Friends,

The Quint also published a fact-check on the flag fiasco on Republic Day.

Please read here …

Dear Friends,

This is my full quote but for editorial reasons for AltNews, which I completely understand, could not be included.

On visual of flags on Red Fort:

Whether yellow or saffron, triangular flags with the Khanda – two swords – are Sikh flags. They are not Khalistan flags. In fact, there is no established or legitimate Khalistan flag. When a flag is hoisted as a symbol of regime change, the previous flag is brought down and the new flag is unfurled.

In this case, the Tricolour, the flag of India, continues to be hoisted. It has not been touched. There is no intention to touch it. The hoisting of Sikh flag means that the people of the nation want to assert their identity as well. They want to be counted. They want the rulers of the nation to not take them for granted. That is why the Sikhs hoisted their flags.

Must note, it was not part of any Union’s program. There was no call made for it.

History:

On 11 March 1783 the combined army of Baghel Singh of Karorsinghia Misl (military term: divisions or formations) with Jassa Singh Ahluwalia leading the Ahluwalia Misl and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia leading the Ramgarhia Misl defeated the Mughal army and captured Delhi. They detached the throne of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (on which he sat and ordered the death of 9th Guru Teg Bahadur), tied it to elephants and dragged it to Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. Even today the slab is present at the Darbar Sahib in the Ramgarhia Bunga.

Places in Delhi such as Mori Gate, Tis Hazari, are named from that period of Sikh history. The Sikhs also established Gurdwara Rakabganj at the site where two followers of the Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur – Lakhi Shah Banjara and his son Naghaiya – cremated his headless body, by setting their own house on fire.

Having done that, the Sikh armies retreated back to Panjab. The Sikh ethos is never to be an aggressor or oppressor.

Please see here …

Dear Friends,

On Republic Day night, Manpreet Dhindsa Sahota interviewed me for RedFM Canada on the Tractor Parade on Republic Day. In Panjabi.

Please listen here…

8
Feb

Farmers Protest: Republic Day

   Posted by: aman

Day 62

#FarmersMarch

Test of the Republic.

Today is indeed a historic day. The question is: will the history that will be written today the same as of last 73 years or will it be a day the nation recognises itself as it citizens and not just its government. For context, the Independence Day that we all celebrate every year, draws a lump to Panjab’s throat (and I assume Bengal’s). We do not say it, yet our hearts break. For the day the nation considers itself free from foreign British rule, is the day that marks the loss of over 1 million of our lives, 14 million displacements in east and west of India – the Partition.

India’s birth was indeed bloody.

Similarly, today the farmers are marching to assert their right to celebrate the Constitution. They are asserting their presence in the making of the nation but are clear that they are not interfering with how the nation celebrates it through a parade of military might. We have been hearing about these intended celebrations since January 2. On January 17 the route was declared by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha – Delhi’s Outer Ring Road.

Yet, suddenly, three days back, the SKM agreed to a route which surprised us all – on the outskirts of Delhi. Given how peaceful the protest has been last 62 days, in fact 100 days in Panjab, we all fell in line in the larger, greater good. Yet the nagging question did not leave our minds: why? Why the compromise? Are we not in Delhi to challenge the government? to push for complete repeal of Farm Laws, the Republic day, though symbolic, is similar? In any case any nearest point from Outer Ring Road to Rajpath is 17 kms. What possible disturbance can the farmers Tractor March cause? I do not get the middle path argument. When government knows its Laws are wrong, it would be dignified to take them back. When government recognises its citizens are important, it would not interfere in their freedoms to celebrate the Republic Day.

Since the day before, and through a speech yesterday, one Union from Panjab, not part of SKM, but which has been operating independently, is part of 41 negotiators with the government, has asked this question openly and declared they will march on the Outer Ring Road.
The Majha based Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee declared they will march independently on the pre-declared, by SKM, Delhi’s Outer Ring Road. They gave an open call to everyone to join. Those who wish to demonstrate they are here to assert their right as citizens of the nation and those who wish to keep seeking compromises with the government.

KMSC leader Satnam Singh Pannu emphasised that these compromises in the ‘interests of the nation’ have never benefitted the farmers, the rural, the real India. He said the anger in farmers is against decades of mal-governance by multiple governments, right from the time of Independence, now harvested by Modi through the Black Farm Laws.

The place where the two marches – SKM and KMSC – will diverge and possible conflict could happen between the police and KMSC is 10 kms from Singhu, at Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar – Mubarka Chowk. This is where national highway 44 touches the Outer Ring Road. Here SKM wants the March to proceed rightwards towards Bawana, outside Delhi. KSMC will ask its union and those who act on their call to turn leftwards towards Azadpur/ISBT, into Delhi. Last night, police reinforced this site: dug trenches, erect barricades.

KMSC has declared their march will be peaceful and disciplined and if the state exerts violence, they will not retaliate. Instead, they will take the blows or bullets, lay down their lives but those killings will reveal the government’s real intention behind the Black Laws – that the government is anti-people.

KMSC has started its march at 8 am. In some minutes from now, KMSC will reach Mubarka Chowk. They are ahead of the Singhu/SKM’s Tractor March. If the police blocks them, exerts violence, there will be crowding and SKM folks too will not be able to go on their planned route.

Let us see if the nation considers its farmers its honourable citizens or exerts violence. If today remains peaceful, I will wish all the Republic Day. Else, I will agree, with what Panjab has deeply sensed for decades: ‘we are the food producing colony of India’.

“Land has a big role in the lives of peasants,” Manjit Singh said. “Land is their social status in the village, their bargaining power at political level, their source of income and survival, and cultural reality. For farmers, land is their lifeline and not a commodity like it is for urban folks, who buy and sell flats and plots. It is part of their kinship relations, their organic social life. For land, they will become martyrs.”

Dear Friends,

When I reached Delhi end of December to pay homage to the #FarmersProtests, Hartosh Bal from Caravan and I spoke. He said, ‘Aman, now that you are here, please visit the sites and tell me the anatomy of the protests.’ Since then, I have been working on this piece. I try to articulate the body, the mind, the heart, the arms, the legs of the protest – though not literally.

The protest is so wide, that one article or even a book cannot encompass everything. Yet, with my editor Surabhi Kanga, we have tried. We put out one piece last week. Here is the next one with pictures by the excellent Shahid Tantray, Randeep S Mdk.

Note, right now, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee is asking the police why isn’t it allowing the Republic Day Tractor March on the earlier route: Outer Ring Road? They have announced they will march on the Outer Ring Road – absolutely peacefully.

In the piece, I also explain how the KMSC and BKU-EU, who are not part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha work. Why it is important for a protest of this size and nature to have a decentralised leadership. How such leadership works to the advantage of the agrarian sector that subsequent governments have neglected for the last half century.

Sorry, this time the farmers are not here to compromise. The state has neglected them for very long. The protests are their ‘hond di ladai’ – battle for existence. This time the state better address their demands: repeal the Farm Laws, legalise MSP.

Happy Republic Day!

Please read here …