Farmers Protest: Khede Gaye

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Day 328

Toll 640

Khede Gaye

While doing PANJAB I met many who simply said about the region’s long and factitious history: assin tan ji khede gaye – we have been played. Not everyone you meet when doing a book is eloquent to list out the long-winding reasons which have brought a people and region to discontent.

This sense of khede gaye comes to people when their leaders, representatives, political parties fail to acknowledge their issues and use the same issues to manipulate them. It is utterly tragic for a democracy that people imbibe this feeling. It weakens their trust in systems and what is a democracy without its people?

It is now 120 hours to the barbaric killing and parading of Lakhbir Singh’s body at the Kundli border protest site. Due to the justifications of the murder by some in the Sikh community, we did loose some of the image of non-violence and peaceful resistance we had built over the last year, at least. That the incident did not lead to any further violence, to riots, is to the credit of the protesters at the sites.

It is also true that it did not become a caste crime as the Sangh wanted to portray it because many Dalit voices from Panjab denied that point of view. Yes, tragically Dalits killed a Dalit but the issue does not end there. We need to interrogate, as another friend pointed out: what is it about religion that pushes people to enact such barbarity while upper castes just wash their hands off?

Much that needed to come out about the incident is available. Much that is hidden will perhaps be revealed much later or never. There is no doubt that the incident was a conspiracy to manipulate the community. I say this because there are questions in my mind that I am laying out. We know, no one in authority will answer them. In fact, spare yourself the trouble of answering them on the post as well. Please.

1. How did a 35 year old drug addict, alienated from own family, who had just Rs 50, reach Singhu border from village Chima Kalan, Taran Tarn? It is 450 kilometers.

2. Who is Lakhbir’s handler ‘Sandhu’? Do you see how killing Lakhbir has cost the community?

3. Why is Sarabjit, the first Nihang arrested, with short hair? No, the excuse that he was recently initiated does not hold good because a Nihang leader Aman Singh stated ‘for long Sarabjit has been our jathedar of horses’.

4. Further, why did Sarabjit himself remove his turban and reveal his coloured short hair? If he was growing his hair, why wasn’t it at least, knotted?

5. Though it is good the accused Nihangs are surrendering, counterintuitively, ask yourself: why are the arrests happening so easily? What assurance do the Nihangs have from the government?

As many are pointing out, the July pictures of Nihang leader Aman Singh with Minister Tomar is not enough evidence pointing to a conspiracy because various farmers leaders have been meeting various government ministers and officials. Also, Aman Singh now says the meeting was because government wanted to persuade them to vacate the protest site. It is basically one version against another and we will never know the truth.

But the question is: while leaders have unions, who will really listen to Nihangs if they reach an agreement with the government on Farm Laws? Do they have a following?

In fact, that is the crux of the Nihang presence at the protests. Many groups, not just Nihangs, are in the protests because they are looking for their own relevance. The Nihangs, make for great visuals of the Sikh militaristic tradition, especially as curious outliers on Holla Mohalla games. Sadly, though the Nihang history is glorious, they had a setback owing to one of their group, Budda Dal’s leader Baba Santa Singh decision after Operation Blue Star.

At that time, the government, mostly then minister Buta Singh, had used Baba Santa Singh to erect the Akal Takht which the Army had broken in its operation. The community rejected the government sponsored Akal Takht. The community tore it down and built its own Akal Takht through kar sewa.

Since then, the Nihangs are mostly in the woods as far as their voice in the community is concerned. They might have advocates but their writ does not run in the community. Do you think the ordinary protester, the real strength of these protests, will listen to them and go back home?

Finally, it is an immense tragedy for democracy that the government does not see what every protester sees: the laws are wrong, just repeal them.

Instead, it chooses to deal with all sorts of leaders and intermediaries, including CAT Pinky in the photograph – ex militant turned policeman who has admitted to being witness to many extra judicial killing and indulged in some himself for which he did jail time – and the very Diaspora groups which it otherwise blames as Khalistani. How blinkered is the government! How wrongly the government believes all these extra methods, including creating disruptions, will break the protests.

These are the nasty games that the government plays which give people a sense of beg played – khede gaye. To me, it is Bebe like this in this video (29 seconds) who uphold the protests. Look at how sweetly the grandmother saying: ‘Won’t Modi will lose one day? It is not that he will win forever, he won’t win …’

It is people like her, their resolve and humility, and not the leaders who form the protests and the government better learn if she continues to feel ‘khede gaye’, if she does not feel addressed, her kind will not move back. It is the government actually that needs a lesson in humility.

No, not even Captain Amarinder’s soon to be launched party will solve the crises for even if Laws are repealed, though impossible because the Laws are backed by big corporates and IMF/WTO, how will the government address the issue of Minimum Support Price? He too is, sadly, looking for relevance.

Video source: Kisan Morcha.

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