Archive for February, 2021


Farmers Protest: Structural Violence

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 74

Toll 208

Missing 123 (official, could be more)

Jailed 120 (not reconciled with above 123)


Structural Violence

If you do not know the term ‘structural violence’, if you do not know the structural violence of the Green Revolution, if you do not know how the new Farm laws are the next phase of the previous structural violence, please look at the figures above again. Ask all possible questions. You may get an idea of what structural violence means.

Now that much is revealed about how the flag fiasco of Republic Day was a trap laid by powers that be using a compromised police and a pliant media, it is time we assess the Tractor March in terms of real violence to civilians, to property private or public. The answer is zero.

If we assess yesterday’s Chakka Jam in terms of violence to police, civilians, property private or public, the answer is zero. In fact, all essential supply lines were allowed. While the 3-hour protest generated nation-wide participation, look at its reporting in media. Near zero. Think about this in terms of previous protests that have happened in the country, especially on calls of the right-wing.

Yesterday, in the Samyukt Kisan Morcha press conference, Panjab Kisan Union leader Ruldu Singh Mansa said (minute 9.45): ‘when we make a call, we look at the conditions in each state to assess whether our call will get us results or not.’ This was in context of the last minute Chakka Jam being called off in Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

Indeed, a Chakka Jam yesterday in UK and UP could have proved detrimental. There is a great upheaval in the masses in those states. There could have been riots. In Delhi, ironically, but as optics to create fear and inconvenience ordinary people, the government closed down 10 Metro stations, 50,000 police was on stand by for a Chakka Jam that never happened.

Calling off Chakka Jam in some states was a wise decision but why did SKM’s explanation come so late in the day, after the event? From my understanding, it is because there is a top-down culture in Panjab – a way of infantilizing the masses. A belief that people do not get it. These are people who have set up cities on the borders, are arranging all basics for themselves which the government is trying to curtail. Why would they not understand? That is why, the leadership should be inclusive and participatory, not judgmental of the masses it is leading.

Anyway, the powers that be realise nothing they do is working. Whatever they try to beat the protests with boomerangs. This does not mean it is easy from here on. It means it will get tougher.

Be prepared for more … meanwhile understand structural violence. Though, of course, my concern now is possibility of literal violence.

Meanwhile, more and more Mahapanchayats are on, at least two a day, lakhs upon lakhs gathering. Communities other than Jats/Jutts/Raitas are participating. The movement is growing.


Farmers Protest: Politburo

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 73

Toll 206

Missing 123 (official, otherwise more)



In spite of all big and small attempts to intimidate, all muscle flexing by state, after the Republic Day, the farmer protests are back with renewed strength. The protests have attracted international attention and revealed the absolute servility of macho right wingers, including celebrities, drawing derision and making a mockery of India internationally. The mid-race baton change between Singhu and Ghazipur was beautifully executed. Not much in news, Tikri has been standing tall pre and post Republic Day. Now Shahjahanpur is rising. Many Mahapanchayats have taken place – Muzaffarnagar, Mathura, Baghpat, Jind and Kasganj – a huge one yesterday at Shamli in spite of administration not giving permission.

When people collect in such large numbers, vow to join the struggle, the leadership needs to recognise that people too have expectations from the leadership. Any leadership’s role is not merely to represent people but to shape movements, develop the people’s political consciousness, take a stand and push with it, not go on backfoot – present models of leadership. For the Panjab side of the the protests – clarifying because the protests are now national – the expectation is for the leadership to be transparent and accountable. On that score, I feel Samyukth Kisan Morcha, which has found its feet over last few days, still has some way to go …

It does not help that SKM explained away the events of Republic Day as sabotage by external agencies (read government). The fact is if youth was feeling neglected, if some groups were feeling unrepresented, the leadership should have connected with them. When Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee was attacked by government sponsored Hindutva goons, youth from SKM’s side of the camp were standing with KMSC, why was SKM asking them to not stand with KMSC? Two days back, was Navreet last prayers – the young farmer, shot by police, death through tractor tumbling. Priyanka Gandhi reached his village, for the last 10 days, no SKM leader except Chaduni, contacted his family. Yes, three leaders went for prayers where over half a lakh people were collected, but what explains SKMs silence? Will SKM now say the Congress is trying to benefit from the movement they created?

These protests would have been nowhere if it were not for solidarity from other states, other castes, classes, and women. What explains SKM’s silence over Nodeep Kaur,, member of Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan (MAS), arrested from Singhu on January 12? Tortured. Why not demand her release?
SKM needs to ask itself what kind of leadership it is willing provide. Is it of the pre-Republic Days when they were shaping the discourse, bringing cheer in ranks through defiance, or is it going to play catch up with its people? I hope SKM realises they are not just some nominated leaders from their unions. They represent the farmers and workers of the nation.

This is about models of leadership. From my understanding, the issue is the Left can’t go beyond the idea of the politburo – the executive committee, supposedly representing the collective will of the people. In theory, the purpose of politburo is to ensure collective responsibility. In practice, in most former communist countries, the politburo stood for a dense, opaque, collective which was slow to budge, take a stance, ignored ground realities, and did not consider the human cost of their policies.

These protests unfolding in India are unique. Not only because they are bringing together such a diversity but also because from Panjab side, the leadership is Left but cadre is Sikh, old rivalries are dissolving. These protests need a model of leadership beyond politburos.

A few days back SKM gave the call for ‘chakka jam’ today between 12 noon and 3 pm. Last night, once Tikait and Rajewal met, they decided, owing to sensitive conditions in the states from Navreet’s death, to exempt Delhi, UP and Uttrakhand from the ‘chakka jam’. This is understandable. No one wants violence. But pray, why did SKM give the bombastic call earlier? When they announced earlier, did they not estimate the anger in the people? To a lesser extent because ‘chakka jam’ is relatively minor, this is the same issue as of Republic Day Tractor Parade: SKM made a series of provocative calls, then changed the route plan but did not explain it.

The protests are seeded, they will go on, many leaders will rise, many people will join. It is now up to SKM to remain relevant. SKM must realise, its cadre is not its bhakts, its worshippers. It must realise its responsibility to lead, to expand the protests, not waver in its announcements and be truly inclusive in its representation.

For now Nodeep, all others arrested. Solidarity!


Farmers Protest: Propaganda

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 71

Toll 197



When I saw the hashtag used by no one less than Home Minister of the nation I said to myself ‘chor ki daddi mein tinka’ – guilty conscience. That is because ask yourself, except propaganda, what exactly has the government done for the nation in the last seven years? In fact, the state has become a huge propaganda machinery that, as we saw yesterday, enrols celebrities, sports people, anyone who we held as icons in the past. Such fear! Such subservience! I am fast losing respect in the whole cohort.

The other thing the government has perfected is jumla – lies. Jumlas are a huge saga of what was promised to people, what was later denied, including in this case, the implementation of Terms of Reference of the Swaminathan Report in BJP’s 2014 Manifesto.

I love it that celebrities endorsed the protests but the first big tweet was perfectly neutral, it merely asked: can we talk about the farmers protest? Just that much led to this macho, uber-masculine government losing its calm (shit)? Imagine how terrified is the bully who has barricaded himself and the people of Delhi from farmers whose produce they still consume daily.

Celebrity endorsement are double-edged swords. They are good when they project a movement but sometimes they also unwittingly, or wittingly because powers know this, can skew the discourse, hijack the movement, become about themselves. That risk remains. We must note the rooted, grounded farmer movement does not need endorsements. The last many months show us the protests will also not be easily appropriated by celebrities or sundry politicians. Though we must remain cautious and vigilant. However, since the struggle is for justice, it is good if celebrities show which side they stand. Indian ones, of course, have discredited themselves.

Sometimes I wonder if everything about the country we live in is false? Elected representatives who betray, governments who do not deliver, celebrities who might have some skill but no talent, no gumption. What is a person without a big heart? What is a nation without a big heart?

After the earlier Mahapanchayats, yesterday there was one in Jind. The crowd was so big, the stage broke thrice. The farmers have pledged to take their fight ahead. Meanwhile, on protest sites, Internet, electricity, water, sanitation lines being cut by government. Yet, in a show of solidarity, urban neighbours have shared their WiFI passwords, tractors and solar panels are providing electricity, remember these are farmers, they are resourceful, they are digging their own borewells for water, food lines to Haryana and Uttar Pradesh remain open, local villagers prevented police from barricading NH 44 in Haryana (why did Delhi folks allow barricading of Ghazipur? So scared?) sanitation has been and will again become an issue. Ask Modi what happened to his Swachh Bharat – the jumla on toilets.

The protests are going strong. The government still has no clue what to do. Suggest: just repeal the Laws; Parliament is in session, instead of a fake discussion on Farm Laws which should anyway have happened before Laws were passed, pass a law legalising Minimum Support Price. The farmers will go home.


Farmers Protest: Farce Debate in Parliament

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 70

Toll 195


Farce Debate in Parliament

The government agreeing to debate on farmers issue is another manipulation in the saga of the struggle of farmers.

Just checking news, media will push for this debate as if something will come out from it. The fact is, we are living in an age of trust deficit, not only in the Supreme Court but also in the Parliament. Yes, we supposedly live in an electoral democracy but the protests amply display that all political parties – yes, all, not only BJP – stand discredited.

The meagre little Congress of today also did not implement the Swaminathan Commission Report 2007 that it had itself set up. The Akalis were in BJP’s pocket until recently. Many other smaller parties are in alliance with BJP. In spite of AAP’s tearing the Farm Laws in the Delhi Assembly, the fact is they had earlier notified the Laws. Left might speak some sense but does not have much of a mandate. Shiv Sena might do some posturing but they are part of the same political system that has impoverished the agrarian sector for half a century. The fact is political parties have consistently betrayed the agrarian sector, as seen even in the recent Budget.

The debate will be used by non- BJP parties to try to prove to be allies of farmers.

It will be used by BJP to up its propaganda. All that will come out from this debate is BJP will look like a injured party.

This debate is a manipulation of democracy. This debate should have happened before the Laws were bulldozed in Parliament. A bulldozing over which Opposition cried foul but had no power to do anything. The only party that the government must discuss with is the farmers camped outside Delhi, now barricaded as well. Farmers whose internet, water, electricity, sanitation is cut off. In fact, the stage of discussions has also passed, the only thing that the government must do is repeal the Laws, legalise MSP.

The only task of Opposition is to force government to remove barricades, restore services, not indulge in false, staged debates.


Farmers Protest: Directions to Red Fort

   Posted by: aman    in Other

February 2, 2021

A simple question on Republic Day Red Fort flag fracas. I wonder why no one asks it. Actually I wrote it for a site, they refused to publish.

Many of you live in Delhi. I lived in Delhi for 5 years. Drove around. Then Metro came and we started going to Chandni Chowk/Red Fort by Metro.

Yet, we know Delhi roads, especially old city roads are such a spider’s web that it isn’t easy to reach Red Fort. The Red Fort front is not on the Ring Road. Neither is ITO on the Ring Road. Both are roughly one kilometre inside, connected by Netaji Marg. When Delhi was Shajahanabad, Red Fort was its great landmark, the current Netaji Marg was the main road.

We know the famers who participated in the Tractor Rally were almost all from outside Delhi. Many perhaps came to Delhi for the first times in their lives. They do not know the roads, they do not know the roads to take to destinations.

Tractors are big machines, when on speed on smooth roads, when drivers are enjoying the wind of their faces, they aren’t easy to turn. So,

a) How did the farmers coming from Ghazipur side, Sari Kale Khan, know where to leave the Ring Road and turn at exactly the right place to reach ITO where the police lathi charged them?

b) Why did police not stop farmers coming from Singhu side, Mukarba Chowk, when instead of taking Ring Road, they turned on Karnal Road?

Who gave the farmers directions? If this does not tell you about police complicity and trap, then you are free to stick to your beliefs.


Farmers Protest: Waheguru, Hare Ram, Allah Hu

   Posted by: aman    in Other, Punjab

Day 69

Toll 194


When I put up my posts, when I see other posts, many people respond: we are praying for peace.

Each and every prayer is important. Each and every prayer creates focus and mindfulness. Yet, when the struggle is against a set of people who claim monopoly on one religion, want power in the name of that religion to actually betray the people, sell them off, they desecrate prayers.
Yet, the farmers who feed us, our annadatas, chant and pray in unison. Listen to this, perhaps the most soothing chant from the protests led by the Bard of these protests – Kanwar Grewal.

Notice, this is the stage, in front in Singhu, under the greatest assault by the government’s goons. 5 big and small attacks in last five days. This area is almost fully barricaded, even from Singhu main protest site. No arrests, no FIRs.

Heavens forbid, if an real attack happens, this area will be eye of the storm. Translation of text follows.

‘Waheguru n, Hare Ram n, Allah Hu n.

‘We chant them all. That is why we say, you are ours, we are yours. Let there not be a single arm, hand, that does not touch the sky.

‘Zindabaad – long live. Farmers, workers unity – Zindabaad.

‘A wonder is unfolding. Panjab Haryana, Rajasthan, all states unity – Zindabaad. Chardi Kala – high spiritedness.

‘It is your blessing (o God), it is your mercy, your kindness that we all stand together, we are calm, our spirit is at its peak.’

Look at the face of the little girl in front when Zindabaad comes.

h/t Simran Kaur Chardi Kalla

See video here …



Farmers Protest: Optics of Barricades

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 68

Toll 192


Optics of Barricades

We all woke up to the story and pictures in The Telegraph of barricades coming up at the protest sites Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur. They are ominous. Right from Day 1, the protests have evoked in me memories of Operation Blue Star and the anti-Sikh pogrom in 1984. We know what blunders they were but they also showed us how the Sikhs were othered and isolated in this nation – barricaded. Naturally, these barricades reopen that memory.

However, we must notice that this time, as Singhu shook after January 26th, Ghazipur came up in much greater strength. We must note that Shahjahanpur has consolidated. We must know that Tikait averted an ’84 at Ghazipur on January 28th night. These are our gains, not only as Sikhs, but as farmers, as citizens. These are gains against an arrogant, authoritarian regime based not on democracy but populist dictatorship.

First time in 7 years, the protests are against the arrogance of the regime that remained unopposed when it enacted demonetization that knocked of the poor, GST that knocked off the traders, Kashmir that knocked off our moral compass, Citizenship Bill that knocked off our natural rights, Coronavirus lockdown that pushed more than 3 crore migrants workers to walk back home hundreds of kilometers from the cities which they built and where they lived, and much more. The farmers are not only fighting for their lands against corporate takeover. Through this fight the farmers are fighting to preserve the Constitution that the regime has upturned. It is a fight for India.

Coming back to barricades. I am reminded of June 1, 1984 when, a few days before Operation Blue Star, CRPF took position around Darbar Sahib and fired for 11 hours. Later, Lt Gen Brar, who led the Operation, wrote in his book that the intention was to assess the strength of the militants inside the Darbar Sahib Complex. What does that tell us about these barricades?

The role of a barricade is to isolate. But any barricade has two sides. In this case the protest sites and the people of Delhi. Notice, the backs of all these protest sites are open – Singhu to Murthal and beyond, Tikri to Pakoda Chowk and beyond, Ghazipur to UP. I just checked with people on ground. They tell me hundreds of tractors and trollies, carrying youth and women, are arriving at all sites. Many more from Haryana than Panjab. The josh, enthusiasm, on ground is high. No one is worried about barricades. In fact, there is a bit of a relief that Sanghi goons might not be able to enter easily.

That tells us that if the intention of barricades was to scare farmers, it has failed. If it was to prevent the people of Delhi from reaching the protest sites, it is now up to the people of Delhi. The government, which failed to asses the might of the protesters on January 26th, knows it cannot ever measure it, now wants to assess the might of the people of Delhi.

At the same time, Internet connections at sites are downed from time to time, twitter accounts of Tractor2Twitter, Caravan India, Kisan Ekta Morcha, and many others are suspended. As I said yesterday, would each of us, without up-to-date knowledge, remain resolute in pushing for repeal of Farm Laws and legalising MSP? That is what the optics of barricades are assessing.

This is flexing of muscles to check if we, the citizens of India, will get scared by trenches, concrete blocks, long nails, concertina wires. Keep your nerves. No one can say anything about an armed attack, but the question is: does the government want to earn infamy like the government in 1984? The farmers know what they are doing, do we know what we are doing?

Arijit Mukherjee is now translating some posts in Bengali. See here …


Farmers Protests: War of Nerves

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 67


War of Nerves

The farmers executed their war of manoeuvre when they occupied Delhi’s borders. They settled in the war of position when talks with government began. The protests weathered the war of attrition when government started its propaganda and used its Enforcement Directorate and National Investigation Agency on leaders and volunteers. The January 26th flag fracas on Red Fort was engineered by deep state to unsettle the position the farmers had established and the moral high ground they had taken on the Farm Laws. Since the move failed, Ghazipur rising has panicked the establishment. Now propaganda is taking uglier turns.

If you can read this message, know that lakhs of farmers on protests sites cannot read it. Crores of Haryana people in 17 districts cannot read this message. Their internet is shut down. Along side this blackout, dastardly, absolutely condemnable events are being created and pictures of young Sikh men being crushed by police, heads broken, other injuries are circulating on social media. All such pictures, videos, text, statements by people and leaders are meant to provoke the Sikhs, the farmers, and those who care for them from the urban middle class. They are meant to Sikhs and the farmers so that they indulge in violence and government can unleash their forces on the protests.

Last night a journalist was picked up. Cases are being filed against journalists for saying their truth: young Navdeep on tractor was shot and he lost control and crashed and died. Cases are filed against farmer leaders. Since most urban India is now learning about rural India, you may also want to acquaint yourselves with various section of India Penal Code. They will help you learn the spectrum from which police levies changes and their relative gravity. It will help you process what is going on with greater clarity. Sangh goons attacked Singhu with full police protection. Sangh goons tried to attack Ghazipur under BJP leaders. There are no arrests, no charges, the intention is clear: wear down the protesters.

As the icy, chilly winter the farmers endured turns to spring, the government is now engaged in a war of nerves wit the whole state machinery at its disposal. Going forward, the attacks will increase and because of no internet, a pliant lapdog media, we not even know about them. A lack of connection, lack of news, can make us feel lonely. We could feel bereft and clutching at not even straws.

Ask yourself are you in this for a reason which is bigger than what leaders tell you, your self-preserving mind tells you? Or are you in this because your conscience won’t let you rest unless you belong to the protests? If that is the case, then know, when your feel lonely, we are all with you. Each of us at the protests, articulating the protests, in solidarity with the protests, needs to keep our calm, hold our nerves and most of all keep the voice of our conscience alive.

In such a scenario, as we all focus, try to amplify the protests, I have decided to no longer engage with the right wing eco-system. Simply because, one engages with anyone, converses with anyone, on the assumption that the other side is listening, is willing to change. I know the right wing does not want to learn. It just wants to wear me down, exhaust me. I know closing the door to right wing means I end up in a silo. I vastly prefer to belong to a silo of protests than to any longer an effort to bridge the divide. I know that now there is enough ground momentum. Whatever the government does, events after 26th January shows me, the protest is seeded. It will continue to grow. It may change forms and shapes, but there is no stopping it. Now it is upon the right wing to bridge the divide with us.

Okay, to confess, I am not even engaging with the fence-sitters, the good-hearted but still illiterate about the protests, middle class. That time has passed. It is a war of nerves, to keep it non-violent from our side, we need to first hold our nerves, keep our sanity.

We will win.


PANJAB: Review in Rashtriya Sahara

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

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 …



Farmers Protest: Lota Nun Oath

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Day 66

Toll 182


Lota Nun Oath

Completely unreported in media, yesterday, lakhs of farmers from 36 Biradaris came together at the Muzzaffarnagar mahapanchyat and took the oath of Lota Nun for a social boycott – hukka paani bandh – of the Bhartiya Janata Party. Friends tell me this oath of salt (nun) in Ganga water in a spouted vessel (lota) signifies that each oath taker’s individual view is now subsumed in the community’s view and can never be separated.

The historical antecedents of this oath are yet to be established, they are not covered in textbooks. Very rarely in history have the Biradaris taken this oath. Most likely, its first occurrence was with Timur’s invasion of Delhi, 1398. It was taken in 1857, Meerut Uprising against British. Today is the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination by RSS/Hindu Mahasabha. Gandhi had administered the Salt Pledge before Dandi March, not the same as Lota Nun, but similar idea.

I feel this oath, or the way Panjab and Haryana created Singhu and Tikri in the manner of how in the 18th century Sikh Misls advanced (military term: divisions, confederacy states) to establish encampments, as significant. Simply because people are ancient and our cultural history and memory in many ways define us, just like modernity defines us. If ancient practices have to be questioned on many occasions, which they must be, we also need to see how they are invoked to create unity – in this case against the Hindutva regime. The Lota Nun pledge has led to Ghazipur site swelling many times from the night of January 27, thousands upon thousands are still arriving.

This is a great mobilization and takes the battle of India to where it should always have been fought: the Hindi heartland. The need for this came about because of the Red Fort flag fracas the Hindutva forces enacted with complicity of some people and by firing the gun from the shoulder of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee. Hindutva was looking for an opening to create a gap between Hindus and Sikhs, isolating Panjab once again. It did not succeed. One call for ‘water from my village’ has led to this huge solidarity.

In fact, the heartland views the hoisting of Kissan flags, Nishan Sahib, some Union flags, not as insult to the Tricolour (for the national flag was not even touched) but a claiming of our nation’s historic building, the Red Fort, from the corporates to which the government has leased it out. This is exactly why the farmers are protesting – to prevent corporate takeover of agriculture. The heartland knows there is no established Khalistan flag, there is no Khalistan movement. Something that drove urban, middle-class India into paroxysms. Social media, take a break!

However, watching the Samyukth Kisan Morcha leadership fumble at Singhu for last few days over this amuses me. My posts are meant to inform not comment but I want to state: What is SKM’s great need to be defensive? Isn’t it time SKM reflects, bridges gaps with youth cadre, shakes hands with KMSC? At this critical juncture, SKM should refrain from publicly blaming KMSC for incidents of Republic Day Tractor March. It is anyway the past, it has gifted us a vastly reinforced Ghazipur.

In fact, yesterday, there was a Sanghi attack at Singhu. Godi media, of course, describes it as locals who attacked. There is clear footage of police standing by for a long time as the attackers started pelting stones at farmers. Police gets into action only when farmers group up, that too to teargas them, even Molotov Cocktails were used. Thankfully the tent towards which they were hurled did not catch fire. Some thirty to forty farmers sustained injuries. After that the police escorted the attackers as if they were state guests. No arrests were made.

It is clear that the state is down to dirty tricks. However, all sites are standing tall. Lota Nun means this is going to be a long year ahead. Remember, after 1857 it took us 90 years to get rid of the British.

A website chose to publish the post. Please see here …

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