The legacy of the tractor rally on Republic Day can’t be diminished using the “violence” bogey
A debate is going on over whether the tractor rally on Republic Day caused setbacks to the farmers’ protest movement against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government due to alleged acts of violence, vandalism and the seizure of the Red Fort by the farmers. It’s surprising that not just the Modi regime and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), along with its parental body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), are vilifying the farmers, but even a large section of the parliamentary “left” and liberal democrats are harshly criticising them for not adhering to the government’s diktats.
The very government founded on the premises of “ghar mein ghuske marenge” (will hit by entering the house, rhetoric used by Modi on neighbouring countries) is panicked when the farmers have entered its house. Now the worshippers of violence and oppression have suddenly become proselytisers of “peaceful movements”. This hypocrisy isn’t a quintessential BJP-RSS thing, but the so-called Opposition is also complicit in it. None, absolutely none, stood with the farmers unequivocally but didn’t spare a moment to criticise and condemn the resistance struggle during the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day.
The violence bogey is always used by the Indian rulers and their agents to discredit any genuine people’s movement. Be it the tribal people’s resistance against the mining giants trying to annex their land, water and forests in central and eastern India, be it the Kashmiri people demanding their right to self-determination, be it the Muslims protesting against Modi’s contentious citizenship matrix, or now, the farmers of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, who have been demanding the repealing of the three anti-farmer laws that benefit the BJP’s big corporate sponsors, whenever the state’s monopoly over violence and terror are challenged by the people, they are vehemently opposed and vilified.
When the farmers, through their heroic tractor rally on Republic Day, asserted their rights on the Republic, which is owned by the likes of Gautam Adani, Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata and other big comprador capitalists, foreign multi-national corporations, big banks and feudal landlords, macabre atrocities were unleashed on them. But the farmers didn’t surrender; they fought their way to the iconic Red Fort, which has been leased out to the corporate house Dalmiya Bharat Group by Modi in 2017 and unfurled the sacred Nishan Sahib banner of the Sikhs, atop the monument, as an act of defiance.
This indomitable spirit of the farmers became a remarkable inspiration for other oppressed people of India. But the so-called “left” and the liberals, who neither played any constructive role in politically uniting and mobilising the farmers in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh against Modi’s laws, nor fought against the oppressive regime along with the farmers, did more damage to the movement. They only saw the “farmers’ violence” during the tractor rally on Republic Day, and not the police’s atrocities. They didn’t see when 70 farmers were killed in the extreme cold by the Modi regime’s apathy because they see only what the ruling classes want them to see. Thus, on the one hand, they are apologising for the violence and, on the other, they are blaming “hoodlums” for the active resistance.
After the farmers refused to accept the humiliating conditions imposed by the Delhi Police regarding their tractor rally on Republic Day and entered the city by surmounting the barricades, facing goriest atrocities unleashed by feral policemen, they were accused of violence! The parliamentary “left”, the liberal usurers like Yogendra Yadav, Medha Patekar, who played no role in arousing the farmers, equipping them politically or to mobilise them to participate in a historic movement against the feudal-corporate nexus, the leaders of the Opposition whose participation in the movement was limited to tweeting and television panel cacophony, began firing a volley of salvo at the farmers.
The Delhi Police’s FIR against many of farmer organisers led to a quick capitulation by many organisations, especially the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which distanced itself from the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC), the organisation that began the mass mobilisation for the tractor rally on Republic day. By blaming the KMSC, most of the SKM leaders are playing into the hands of the state. Two organisations have already quit the movement over violence. This exercise of condemning the farmers for their resistance against state violence stands on sheer hollow grounds.
Is it wrong to resist the state’s violence? The Constitution didn’t prohibit any Indian citizen from self-defence. In a verdict dating March 7th 2019, a Supreme Court Bench of Justices AM Sapre and R Subhash Reddy redefined the right to private defence, enumerated in Sections 96 to 106 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Bench stated that the right to self-defence extends not only to one’s own body but also to protect another person’s body and property. The farmers were protecting their bodies from violent policemen, who have no right, as public servants, to hit the very public when they are organising a peaceful political programme.
Then were the farmers wrong when they resisted the police to ensure that their bodies and properties, like the vehicles participating in the tractor rally on Republic Day, remain safe? Did they lob tear gas shells? Did they charge with batons on policemen? Who gave the privilege to the police to terrorise the unarmed farmers? It’s only when the farmers were attacked, beaten and brutally assaulted at different corners by the Delhi Police, which was ordered to do so by the Modi regime, that the situation went out of control as it became imperative for the farmers to resist police violence.
From the violent atrocities unleashed on Jamia Millia Islamia University students in December 2019, from abetting violence and vandalism during the Delhi anti-Muslim pogrom in February 2020 to falsely charging political activists critical against the government, the Delhi Police always got complicit in crimes against those who oppose Hindutva fascist rule of Modi and the BJP-RSS. Now, when the very farmers who feed Delhi, came with their genuine demands, the very government they have elected, they were brutally tortured. How do the advocates of “non-violence” justify that?
The farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day didn’t deviate from its real route, the route that takes them to their destination–the government’s citadel. The Republic, or whatever is left of it, belongs to the farmers and they are just reclaiming it. The state can’t define which way the people will take to fight against tyranny, injustice and exploitation. For years, the oppressed and the exploited gulped the baits of “peaceful” struggles sold by the capitulators and collaborators of Adani, Ambani, Tata, etc. Now they want an end to this tyranny. They want to lay siege of the capital city to force the government to accept their justified demands. There is no wrong in demanding something from the government and compelling it to accept the demands of the people, whom it represents, as per the Constitution.
Any force that’s applied on them to stop them from exercising their rights on the Republic is illegal and, therefore, rather than the farmers it’s the “left”, the liberal Opposition, the social media warriors of the BJP-RSS, and the bamboozled middle-class, who are the culprits as they are blaming, directly and indirectly, the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day for the violence. Their one-sided, holier than thou analysis of the violence by the oppressed, ignoring the gruesome atrocities by the oppressors, make them ideal lackeys of the ruling compradors, big corporates and feudal landlords, against whom the farmers of 15-16 states are fighting.
For years, the oppressor classes have used clichés to vilify any of the oppressed who resisted the former’s violence. The scuffle during the tractor rally on Republic Day wasn’t one-sided violence by the poor farmers. An act of valiant resistance against state repression on the Republic Day, creating optics that can help the ruling classes to crack down on farmers’ movement. The BJP-RSS are staunch opponents of the farmers and need no new introduction. The farmers despise them. It’s a time to expose the collaborators of the BJP-RSS and their Hindutva fascist state, the very “friends” of the farmers who are stabbing them. The farmers’ organisations determined to carry on the movement must purge the filth of the parliamentary “left” opportunism and liberalism promoted by the ilk of Yadav and Patekar. Only then, and by refraining from any sort of capitulation, they can win victory and return home proudly.
An avid reader and a merciless political analyst. When not writing then either reading something, debating something or sipping espresso with a dash of cream. Street photographer. Tweets as @la_muckraker