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Who let down protesting farmers down on January 26 with an overdose of unprovoked violence

There are no simple answers to the question why the two-month old protests against the farm laws have been brought to an abrupt end , post massive violent incidents on January 26 . Or more precisely who actually let them down ? Select individuals such as Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana who allegedly triggered the violence or tactless handling of the protest itself by Samyukt Kisan Morcha leaders who didn’t know how to snatch victory from Government offer.

Whatever the reasons, the tractor rallies by farmers– which were taken out as a parade of pride and honour ,ended up in chaos, shaming the Republic , it shattered the confidence and unity of the farmers’ movement and left peasants all empty handed . As some of the tractor-borne protesters went rogue in iconic parts of Delhi, jumped barricades, unleashed violence , deviated from mutually agreed parade routes, assaulted the Delhi Police and desecrated the Red Fort, quite a few prominent farm leaders decided to pull out of the dharna.

Departure of prominent leaders such as Sardar VMSingh of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan and Bhanu Pratap Singh of BKU(Bhanu)—from the stir in Ghazipur and Chilla(Noida)– gave the Government a breakthrough that it had been waiting for. It also had a damning effect on the morale of the protesters and served a body blow to the movement . While farmers’ unions put on hold future protests, it also had a ripple effect on local citizens building pressure on protesters to vacate the Delhi-Shingu border .

Credit for taking steam off the protests surely goes to VMSingh,a former legislator from Uttar Pradesh. He was the man who started it all — the longest -sit protest of farmers outside Delhi by calling for a two-day dharna on November 26-27 last year . He admits that he had only planned a two-day protest and decided to call it quits as he found farm leaders had “lost the plot” after they violated all the norms at tractor rally.” I found we had lost the plot the moment we began to insist on taking out tractor rallies on January 26 rather than sticking to our basic demands on MSP and farm bills. I feel very betrayed with whatever happened in the name of farmers on Republic Day. ” says Singh.

He wanted to exit the protest because of the manner in which farm leaders notably Rakesh Tikait of Bharatiya Kisan Union had conducted himself on the Republic Day. Referring to the manner in which Tikait set off from Ghazipur quite ahead of stipulated time , he recalls how Tikait proceeded to Delhi ” jumping police barricade.” Tikait was perhaps acting under pressure from the youth. Young people prefer flamboyance and this is what has cost the farmers’ movement. As for me , our tractor rally moved in the designated route accompanied by Ghaziabad SP” .

Singh is acutely aware that his exit from the protest meant Tikait would not have the muscle to flex his arms and Ghazipur would be cleared of protesters. ” We had formed a sizable support base. Obviously, I cannot expose my boys to mindless violence.” Does he belong to the Congress ?” I was in the Congress till 2011, not any longer.” he says

Tikait had joined the protest scene much later and moved centre- stage as authorities were comfortable negotiating with him. Initially Tikait is known to have hailed the farm laws as a fulfilment of his father Mahendra Singh Tikait’s dreams. And ever since VM Singh was infected with Corona, Tikait came to dominate the picture and became part of the Government-kisan panel.

In the early days, Singh had held a first round of meeting Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. ” That was before corona. After that a whole lot of issues and people had crept in under the banner of kisan protest.” Did the farm leaders withdraw from the protests because of the FIR registered against them ? Known for his pitched battles with the UP Government on sugarcane prices, VMSingh asserts that procurement of grains in the state were right now happening because of his litigation. ” Procurement in UP has happened because of high court and apex court orders.

I fight my own cases .Litigation does not scare me.”

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Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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