Farmers Protest: Sidq – Faith

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 326

Toll 639

Sidq – Faith

It has been 72 hours since the Kundli border incident and I am relieved that riots did not break out. From those reading my post, I expect better understanding about me and my motivation, but to ally anyone in doubt: I condemn the brutal barbaric murder and dastardly parade of the alleged sacrilege perpetuator, victim of mob lynching by Nihangs.

The stories of the victim and perpetuators emerging over the last three days clearly point towards a conspiracy to enact this heinous crime. Given the recent mowing of Sikh farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, the recent success of farmers protest in reaching across the country and drawing participation in Samyukt Kisan Morcha programs, the increased BSF presence in Panjab, this crime was meant to distract from the objectives of the protest and demand to sack the MoS Home and, if possible, fail the protests.

The conspirators know a few things about the Sikhs:

1. They are the pivot of the protests. The more the Sikhs are hammered, the greater the chances of breaking the protests.

2. They are an excitable people and, discussions aside, symbolism plays a role in their religion. Testimony to this is the justification of the murder by individuals on social media. (Including comments on my post that day which I have since deleted leaving most conversations one-sided).

3. They are deeply hurt from many instances of denial of justice, including on issues of sacrilege in recent years. Those too started when farmers protest were at their peak in Panjab, October 2015. Do you see the pattern?

4. They suffer from caste issues – it is a fault line. There is no denying that but because caste in Sikh religion is unlike caste in Hindu religion, the attempt to see this act as a caste crime failed.

5. The Nihangs, by no stretch a monolith, also cultivate an image of being a bit out of the periphery of the law. Yet, as of now three Nihangs have surrendered to police. More may be arrested soon.

The ploy failed. In spite of all the furore on social media, on ground, the farmers on protest have weathered yet another storm. Once again the ones who conspired have been snubbed by the people.

However, this episode tells us something about us on social media who are eager to comment: relax!

The world is not waiting for our grandstanding. The people in the protest are wiser than us. They are prepared to deal with the attacks to discredit the protests. They have done so once again. For someone like me who comes from the trauma of my adolescence, I feel more and more assured about the sidq – faith the protesters have in the protests.

In this episode, we must applaud those many Panjab Dalit voices that refused to fall for the Sangh ploy to make the diabolical act look like a caste crime.

However, two points in retrospect:

1. It is facile to completely de-link the protests from religion. Sikh thought, Sikh orientation, is one of the pillars of the protest. Yes, the religion’s core message is Sarbat da Bhala – Welfare of Humanity and its cultural extreme is the kind of ‘sodha’ – punishment that the Nihangs meted out. There is a need to draw a line but one can’t throw out the baby with the bath water especially when the values and positive cultural attributes of the religion have sustained the protests.

2. There is a pattern with SKM to disown whatever it deems may jeopardize its activities. It could come from being unsure about how an irresponsible media would portray them. But the Nihangs have been part of the protests from earlier on. The Nihangs have shared stage, they have shared langar even with police, they have been projected as a line of defence in case an armed attack happens. Yesterday, a few SKM leaders were admitting to this. That dialogue must happen.

A second clarification because these days Facebook is more misread than read: when the Nihangs had arrived, I had called some Nihang groups and asked them what was the point of giving fodder to a vulturesque lapdog media who would want to portray the protest as an armed struggle against the state? There were no good answers. I do not know the Nirvair Khalsa Udana Dal Nihangs.

Today is a call by SKM for Rail Roko. Many places the farmers are stopping trains to demand the arrest of MoS Home Ajay Mishra Teni who had issued a provocative statement that formed the backdrop of the Lakhimpur Kheri killings. Let us enable the Rail Roko.

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