Posts Tagged ‘Farmer Protests’

Dear Friends,

The physical book begins with me being at the farmer and labour union ‘rail roko’ against the government’s apathy (berukhi) at the white fly infestation which destroyed the cotton crop in the south of Panjab. I am deeply conscious how different my story would have been if I had started not in October 2015 but October 2020.

That is how Panjab humbles you. As soon as you believe you got Panjab, it shows you another side. Panjab is asymmetrical, eclectic, ancient beyond history and forever new. After all, Panjab is the Indus Valley Civilization, independent of the Orient and the Occident, yet a gateway to both. I learnt not to conclude Panjab. I learnt to accept Panjab and be accepted by Panjab.

This is what Delhi does not get.

Thank you Pheroze L. Vincent from The Telegraph, for quoting from the book, for talking with me, Chaman Lal ji and Labh Singh ji on how the current protests echo the ‘Pagri Sambhal Jutta’ protests which Panjab won against the British.

Please read more here …

 

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10
Dec

Farmer Protests: My Cousin Minni

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

Dear Friends,

A few years back Jaspreet Kaur decided that instead of working in the US, she would permanently shift to India to take care of her parents. Those friends with her might have seen her posts on Alzheimer’s care for Bibiji. A few weeks back, in the midst of the pandemic, she decided to quit her corporate job – 15 years, one company.

I consider her deeply conscious – care giving is a spiritual process – but largely apolitical towards party politics.

Her post:

A few months ago when the Farm Bills were signed, I started educating myself on its implications as I firmly believe one needs to inform oneself before passing opinions on anything. In the process I accidentally stumbled on FB live transmission of farmers press conference. I was pleasantly surprised on how they conducted themselves and addressed media – so much composure, respect and a firm answer for every question; no dilly-dallying.
There on, I sheepishly started following the entire protest on social media as national media gave it NO attention. But somewhere in heart I kept feeling nothing will come out of this whole thing, it will meet the same fate as other protests. A thought on lines of many morbid people who have resigned to “is desh ka kuch ni hoga” (nothing will happen of this country)

Then came the news of farmers planning to march for Delhi, and Haryana CM announcing he will not let farmers go through Haryana. Worry started to grip me … this was repeat of 1982 in many ways. I was barely a toddler that time but entire childhood, adolescence went in grappling with aftermath of those incidents.

So, certainly I was not surprised by barricades or security forces and not honouring constitutional rights part. For this I didn’t even have to go back to 80s. We have too many examples in recent past that show us how state treats its civilians when they question it or ask for their rights. (We can’t even give an 83 year old man with Parkinson’s disease a sipper and straw to drink water in jail. What else can we expect from state?)

Surprised I was, about how barricading was broken! Fearlessness, human ingenuity, kindness, respect, passion all at full display. I followed the march from one barricaded post to another via news channels, social media posts whatever I could get my hands on. I cried, I laughed, I prayed… Then Haryana, Rajasthan, western UP, MP farmers, all started coming together and people continue to join.

What seemed like a protest that will die, maybe fizzle out, suddenly has become a symbol of hope for me and may be others like me who either don’t voice out their disagreement or have to face severe consequences for doing so.

It took me two days to compose myself and visit the protest site. I called Gurdeep Dhaliwal, who has come with farmers from his village, his answer was “ajo pind vaseeya” and I went!

It felt I was back home, warmth of people, the sense of humour that can make any problem trivial, that zindadili! I also noticed the protestors are keenly aware of what they are here for and the resolve to achieve that goal. While talking to someone, one of them mentioned “eh tan need which vi naare layi janda” (he shouts slogans even his sleep).

I hope, if some talks happen today they bring in good news. If not, I pray that the resolve of farmers gets stronger and mere mortals like me get courage to support them every step of the way. Last and most important prayer: this remains Peaceful.

Even if you don’t get the protest, please please don’t let anyone malign it in the name of religion or any other agenda.

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10
Dec

Farmer Protests: Control the Delhi Chalo Narrative

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

Dear Friends,

I owe a debt to the land that gave me my blood and my book PANJAB. Towards that aim and against the undemocratic forces who rule the country today and their draconian, unconstitutional Far Lwas, I have been trying to support the farmer protests.

In this context sharing many appearances in media in the last two weeks and some critical Facebook posts.

This one is from two days after the farmers of Haryana and Panjab broke the Haryana police barricades and marched to Delhi.
Facebook: December 1, 2020

Control the Delhi Chalo Narrative:

Today is Day 6 of the famer protests against the draconian Farm laws. There is a protest on ground and there is a battle of narratives in cyber space, in people’s minds. Until now the Hindutva state and its lapdog media has tried everything to derail the protests but have failed pathetically.

The two major tactics were:

1. Khalistan mis-narrative: failed because thousands of pictures circulated showing protesters feeding the police at langars. Including yesterday on Baba Nanak’s birth anniversary. It also failed because if Sikh farmers are protesting with a hidden Khalistan agenda then why are farmers from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh are joining them?

2. Panjab’s rich farmers: failed, again because there are thousands of pictures that show these farmers cooking on roadside, living in bare tents on their trollies. (Two attached) If they are ‘fat cat’ as Bhaktas are calling them – and my cat’s name is Shaheen – it is in spirit. Only 4 per cent of India’s farmers own more than 10 hectares, 25 acres of land. Around 65 per cent Panjab farmers are small and marginal – less than 5 acres and 2.5 acres. Every third Panjab farmer is below BPL. The average earnings of farmers in India is Rs 20,00 per year, Rs 1,700 per month for their entire household from agriculture. You spend that much on one family dinner.

In any such movement we need to realise how strong is the state, how bare minimum are the protesters. Poet Sant Ram Udasi calls it the fight between ‘Delhi’s stone forts and people’s mud fortresses’.

Many many people outside Delhi, wish to offer support to the protesting farmers. But please note, these farmers are Annadatas – feeders of the nation. They have enough food, they have enough warm clothes. What they need is mobile toilets, Odomos because of mosquitoes, and basic medicines. Please direct your efforts in those directions through people you know in Delhi. Do not send money. Repeat: do not send money. Send relief in kind, through your personal trusted sources. Exert a bit fellow Indians, for long you have been used to taking your food for granted.

The next tactic lapdog media will adopt is ‘ordinary people are inconvenienced’.

Now that biryani is replaced by langar even for police, this ‘inconvenience’ was the biggest argument against Shaheen Bagh and the hundreds of anti-CAA/NRC protests around the country it inspired.

To that the simple argument is: you did not squeak when Modi locked you in for 40 days. Now in a few days you are massively inconvenienced? You did not speak when the national economy tumbled to -23.9 per cent growth in which the only positive 3.4 per cent was through agriculture. When crores of workers walked back home. Now you are inconvenienced because farmers who fed you for 60 years are demanding food security for the whole nation?

Get a hold on yourself, stand in solidarity with Annadatas.

Don’t be namak haram!

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10
Dec

Farmer Protests: Demands from Government

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

Facebook: November 29, 2020

Chalo Dilli,

you close down tomorrow. Now ask the Central government that has occupied you to agree to these demands by the 30 Kisan Unions.

Remember, the farmers who have fed you for past 60 years do not want to inconvenience you. They seek your support to pressure the government. They start their blockade on Baba Nanak’s 551 birth anniversary.

Baba Nanak preached ‘Sarbat Da Bhala’. The blockade is because it is not the government but the protesters who have the nation’s long term interest and food security in their mind.

Demands:

1. The three agricultural laws by the Modi government should be repealed.
2. Electricity Bill of 2020 should be withdrawn.
3. One-sided ordinance issued by the government in the name of pollution control, under which stubble burning farmers will be penalised with a fine of Rs 1 crore and a punishment of up to 5 years, should be withdrawn.
4. MSP and rate of buying should be guaranteed.
and a fifth, not covered in the attached news story but mentioned in many posts on social media.
5. Farmer leaders, student leaders, anti-NRC agitators, revolutionaries and human rights activists who have been jailed under false cases should be released at the earliest and all fake cases should be withdrawn.

Friends, please also share. Amplify the voice.

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10
Dec

Farmer Protests: Songs From An Old Revolution

   Posted by: aman    in Punjab

Dear Friends,

Jairaj Singh invited me to write for Mumbai Mirror. Here is my piece on the cultural tradition of protest in Panjab and Haryana – erstwhile East Panjab.

I argue that because of its geography and history, standing up to oppression is in Panjab’s blood.

Please read more here…

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Dear Friends,

Prof. Gurnam Singh invited me to join a panel discussion with Manjit Kaur ji and Gurpreet Singh, President Global Sikh Council and President Institute of Sikh Studies, on Akaal channel UK. The program Panjab Farmers’ Crisis – Solutions was recorded live and broadcast worldwide. It is in Panjabi and about an hour long.

In the second segment, I speak about some solutions that lie ahead of us if Panjab stays together like it is now in its protests. Please listen here …

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