Even as the nation was in the midst of celebrating India’s 72 nd Republic Day, reports of farmers protesting against the agricultural reforms took an ugly turn as rioting and violence erupted in parts of Delhi.
Thousands of protesting farmers on foot and on tractors were part of the rally planned for India’s Republic Day; as per reports, the routes on which the farmers were to ply, the permission for the same had already been sought by the protesting farmers and given by the concerned authorities.
However, the protesting farmers found the routes, the roads for which the permission had been given, barricaded, thus restricting the rally’s advent.
As per the protesting farmers’ leaders, the barricade on these roads was an unprecedented move taken by the government authorities since the permission had already been granted for the same.
Thus raising a question – if permission was sought and given by the government for the farmers to hold the rally and use the roads, then why were these roads barricaded?
Even as the farmers union leaders and protesting farmers sought an answer to the above question, the rally turned forceful. Many farmers resorted to rioting. The media were reporting violence.
It must be mentioned here that during the last two months of the protest, the farmers’ unions had worked actively to ensure that the protest against the new farm bills introduced by the Center had remained free of any law and order incidents.
However, yesterday’s incident, wherein a crowd broke away to storm the Red Fort, has given the government the opportunity that the agitation may not be only protesting farmers but also includes hardline elements.
Who is Deep Sidhu, and what was his role in yesterday’s violence?
Deep Sidhu is an actor–turned activist who has been trying to get a foothold in the anti farm law agitation and has several times during the ongoing protest attempted to take a leadership role in the movement.
However, he has actively and continuously been shunned by the farmer unions, although the opportunity presented itself yesterday. He took full advantage of the same.
Deep Sidhu, along with Lakha Sidhana (gangster – turned – social activist), declared that they would hold the rally “inside Delhi.”
This was not the plan as agreed upon by leaders of the farmers’ unions, but Deep Sidhu, along with Lakha Sidhana, also supported by certain extreme left-leaning elements, took over the main stage at Singhu and decided on not following on the agreed route.
According to sources, they already had a plan for the day, and even before the start of the official march of the farmers’ unions, they started a rally of their own and went on to position their ‘henchmen’ in large numbers at a road turning towards Delhi.
From here, they directed tractors towards the Red Fort rather than the agreed route, the fact that the volunteers of farmers unions tried to intervene in this unexpected turn of events, but they were outnumbered by the Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana group.
Deep Sidhu came to be noticed when he raised a question over the farmer unions’ leadership and announced to launch his own ‘morcha’ at Shambu.
He was also seen campaigning to strengthen the BJP during the Lok Sabha election and even posed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Sidhu was the party’s Gurdaspur election agent candidate Sunny Deol.
Farmer unions then accused him of being an “RSS agent.” His ‘Shambu Morcha’ soon received support from some pro – Khalistan Channels and live-streamed Deep Sidhu, who would often attack the unions’ leftist leadership and even went as far as giving examples of Jews and motivated people to fight for a “Sikh Homeland.”
Some have now questioned his shift from supporting “Hindu Right” to “Sikh Right Wing,” and Sidhu has admitted to the fact that Naxalite – turned – Khalistan proponent Ajmer Singh’s books on Sikh History changed his perception.
The farmers’ unions have openly alleged that Deep Sidhu is a “frontman” of Ajmer Singh.
The storming of the Red Fort
The farmers’ protest, which until now had been peaceful and without any untoward incident involving law and order, was taken into a different direction under the leadership of Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana.
The duo has been wanting to be seen and heard in a leadership position in the farmers’ protest since the time it started. However, the leaders of the farmers union have been very strict in not giving them any foothold.
Since the time of the agitation, the common concern among the 32 organizations was that the two are aspiring to push the “struggle” towards the communal path.
During a meeting of the 32 farmer unions, this possibility had been foreseen by the farmers’ unions long back.
Under the duo’s direction, the group wanted to hold the rally inside Delhi and broke away from the group of protesting farmers to storm the Red Fort, wherein they also hoisted Nishan Sahib and later reiterated that the India flag was not removed.
The Farmers Union object to Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana
The farmers union has continuously tried to distance themselves and the farmers’ agitation from the duo.
Since the start of the protest, the farmers’ unions have been strongly objecting to any association with Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana. ‘
So much so that when the former sent them a letter that highlighted his desire to get associated with their platform, the plea was rejected.
The farmers’ unions have repeatedly and stoutly refused to give any foothold to the duo in the agitation against the Center’s farm bills.
Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana take the matter into their hands.
Having understood that the duo would not get any role, position, or association with the farmers’ protest, it seems both thought it more prudent to garner headlines and mark their presence in the farmers’ agitation by taking the matter into their own hands.
The entire episode of violence and the Red Fort’s subsequent storming have left many Delhi police personnel injured; the numbers being reported are anywhere from 85 – 300 wounded policemen.
Around 200 artists from the Republic Day parade were left stranded during the rioting. It has also been reported that one farmer was killed in yesterday’s violence.
Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana have succeeded in putting the protesting farmers on the back foot even though for the last two months, the protesting union farmers had ensured that no law- and – order incident happened.
They have in one stroke obliterated the farmers’ community’s entire effort to hold peaceful agitation opposing the farm reforms and given the Central government the fodder they needed to counter the protesting farmers’ demands.
Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana have caused much damage and given a bad name to the farmers’ community who have been struggling with the issue of farm bills and, in their haste for recognition and power, have ashamed the whole nation on a day which is held with much honor and a spirit of oneness and an issue which is crucial for the protesting farmers’