15
Sep

Farmers protest: Whither Captain?

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Day 293

Toll 599

Now that there is a lull in the Sidhu-Captain struggle saga in Panjab, Captain has gone ahead and provoked the farmers. Yesterday, he asked farmers protesting in Panjab at 113 locations for close to a year now to shift protest solely to Delhi and Haryana. The reason, he says is, people are inconvenienced and protests hamper economic growth.

Imagine the chutzpah! For four and a half years Captain has neglected the state and now he says farmers protest are harming development. It is for reasons like these I say Captain – while he nominally belongs to Congress – is the most cloaked face of the Sangh. In reality, Captain is a coterie unto his own. When it suits him he spouts nationalism, when it suits him he speaks Panjab’s interest.

Also yesterday, in an unfortunate turn of events, the SKM stage was used to issue a statement against a community elder S. Hardeep Singh Dibdiba. If you recollect, on January 26th, a young man lost his life near Red Fort. Navreet Singh was Dibdiba’s grandson. Police maintains the death occurred because Navreet Singh lost control of his tractor, the tractor tuned turtle, he fell and injured himself fatally. Some media and local sources maintain Navreet was shot at which led to him losing control of the tractor.

At that time, SKM immediately distanced itself from Navreet’s death. In fact, for at least a week SKM did not recover from the events of Republic Day and made all kinds of defensive statements, calling the younger lot in-disciplined and many more adjectives. When, in fact, the Tractor Rally was SKM’s call to start with and SKM never explained the logic behind the route change. Since losing his grandson, Dibdiba has been campaigning to bring the youth and SKM together. Later, once the protest was stable again, SKM honoured Navreet as a martyr.

This statement yesterday, though very brief, came from Dibdiba’s son Bikramjit Singh Hundal who is Navreet’s father. It is clear there is a rift in the family. It is an older rift, going back a few decades, when perhaps Dibdiba neglected his own family.

To me, SKM’s role in the immediate aftermath of Republic Day and yesterday remains problematic. I believe, any fight we take on is finally about our personalities, our character. If SKM has to lead this struggle over the morality of laws, it must itself also rise above exploiting family rifts and allowing its stage to be used to wash dirty linen in public. There is no end to Panjab’s internecine rivalries and SKM must realise it has always been a much bigger entity than just a front for a Panjab-based protest. These talks overall lead to SKM earning a bad name for itself.

In any case now the idea of SKM has spread and individual states are coming up with their own chapters. Haryana, Uttrakhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh are all starting their own SKM chapters. This is part of UP Mission, Bharat Bandh preparations – on September 27th, and for the longer innings in which farmers now find themselves.

Right now a Kisan Sansad is underway in Jaipur. The Sansad model has really worked for farmers and it is good that it is being replicated across sates. The media, if in solidarity, gets to publish concise, accurate information on the Farm Laws. The message spreads, hopefully far and wide.

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