Farmers Protest: Lakhimpur Reflections

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 316

Toll 632

Lakhimpur Reflections

Much to the Sangh’s chagrin, two big public movements in the last decade produced two unintended figures. The India Against Corruption produced Arvind Kejriwal who has kept power in Delhi through last three elections, denying BJP power. The farmers protest produced Rakesh Tikait who kept the movement afloat after BJP’s assault on January 26th. Both of them are complex and unpredictable characters and do not inspire our natural trust. We all have positive or negative opinions on both of them. There is a role the media has played in projecting them. To me, both of them are unintended outcomes of the Sangh’s manoeuvres. I think we need to see the recent Lakhimpur murders – terrorist attack according to international definitions – keeping this in mind.

1. In the last 10+ months farmers’ protest, at each stage where they managed to negotiate with the state, mostly Haryana, each negotiation took a few days. Farmers needed to gherao police stations, deputy commissioner’s office, go on hunger strike until death and so on. So the question is: how did Lakhimpur reach a settlement so quickly?

Was it to checkmate Samyukt Kisan Morcha? I suspect, like earlier, SKM must not have expected early resolution. It did not allow SKM enough time to re-configure its demands, including of MoS Home Ajay Mishra Teni’s arrest. The night was tense with four dead bodies, around 25,000 angry crowd. We can only guess what that kind of pressure would have meant.

2. Did Tikait alone negotiate the compensation and FIRs against Ashish Kumar Monu and friends? It is true Tikait was the most popular leader to reach Lakhimpur and SKM needs to answer why only Charuni was arrested on the way to Lakhimpur? Burj Gill stopped? Where were other leaders? Is meekly saying ‘we were stopped’ enough? When you expect farmers to reach rallies, why could you not find alternate routes? But we must also notice that Ruldu Singh Mansa, Suresh Kauth had reached Lakhimpur. Local leaders Richa Singh and Guramneet Singh Mangat was present. In two days, before others, by changing his appearance, Charuni reached Lakhimpur.

3. When we say leaders were not allowed to enter Lakhimpur, orders were issued that no one from Panjab can enter Lakhimpur, we need to acknowledge that no doubt Gandhis and Akhilesh Yadav are recognisable faces but Jayanth Chaudhary from Rashtriya Janata Dal and Trinamool Congress leaders sneaked into Lakhimpur. Journalists like Mandeep Punia and Sandeep Singh, film makers like Nakul Sawhney sneaked in like many other reporters. I think it is question of who was quick on uptake and who was interested in optics. Certainly, the Gandhis need not have posted videos of sweeping rooms. That is calling attention to self rather than issue at hand.

4. Tikait being played up as sole leader to negotiate deal at Lakhimpur and then being exposed next day by Indian Express is to me part of BJP’s well known tactic: use and throw. It is a planted story. Just that once again it did not work. This does not mean there are no issues with Tikait inside Uttar Pradesh Samyukt Kisan Morcha. These wrinkles must be ironed out but once again, like earlier, BJP’s move did not work.

5. We know there is a struggle between Modi and Yogi. We know BJP excels in creating well-managed micro riots which it can use for propaganda. We know the regime is very rattled by the farmers’ UP Mission. I think all of this has a bearing on how BJP targeted farmers in general, and Sikhs in particular – to exploit the community and caste lines across which the farmers’ protest is built. If the Centre tried to undercut Yogi by creating Lakhimpur. Yogi checkmated not only SKM but also Centre by agreeing to demands. Yet, he has not succeeded.

As of now, SKM has given government time until October 12th (end of final rights of slain farmers) to arrest Monu, Sumit Jaiswal, Ankit Das and other accomplices involved in the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre and remove Teni from ministership. Monu has not obeyed the state summons to present himself by today morning.

Overall, now on day 5, I have a sense SKM managed to deflect assault. Political parties are up in arms for Teni and Monu’s arrest. The farmers protest has now moved to east UP which, if successful, could be BJP’s waterloo in UP. The Supreme Court has taken suo moto cognisance of the Lakhimpur incident. We have innocents killed in Kashmir. We have had a superstar’s son arrested over drugs which is fast proving to be a fake case. All of this is meant to distract us, not allow us to think, ask questions, keep the pressure on the government.

My only suggestion: from whatever happens, we need to draw conclusions without giving in to Sangh’s game plan.

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