Farmer’s tractor rally for Republic Day: how it was planned v/s how it went

Days go by when the national media floods our TV screens with something ‘more important’ like US President-elect swearing-in ceremony or some made up Pakistan conspiracy, over the protesting farmers that have been sitting in the national capital on cold streets for months now. Without shelter over their heads and families states afar, they mustered courage, wisdom and everything they had to make this authoritarian government take the farm laws back.  

Social media, being the saviour it is, has been one prominent source for citizens to stay connected with what is happening to the farmers. You can see them broken, tired and hopeless now with this lopsided fight with the powerful government and as their last resort, they chose to express their disagreement and dissent through tractor march, undertook on January 26th, the Republic day.

Even though this is their last resort, their expectation from the government to back down are not very high. Various interviews from protesting farmers show how low they expect of the government, and even chances of them being shot/ tortured with tear gas aren’t off the list, as the farmers claim, keeping in view the police and government’s track record. The 60 days that passed by farmers protesting, agitating, committing suicide and dying, the honourable Prime Minister didn’t once visit their place of protest to talk to them, didn’t say a word about the martyrs and didn’t once listened to their concern. What else can they expect? Well, to the say the least, their expectations of being lathi charged and tear-gassed did come true.

The Republic day of 2021 witnessed what happens when the spirit of democracy is hurt, by a rally of over 2 lakh tractors on the roads of the national capital.

It was planned that the tractor march would take place after the republic day parade, as permitted by the Delhi police. However, as is recently confronted, groups of people trying to take unfair advantage of the rally by agitating violence are held hiding within the protesting farmer groups. The police claimed to trace 300 twitter accounts of conspirators to Pakistan, with the genuineness of the fact still to be tested. This called in for tighter security measures from the Delhi police, that came from the Delhi Police Commissioner S.N. Srivastava’s circular with respect to the security arrangements for the tractor march. The circular in question instructed all police personnel, officers and Central armed police forces to be prepared for the farmer’s tractor rally straight after Republic day celebrations get over, on Delhi’s border points at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur. The rally will be conducted under very tight security to prevent any harmful action. The permitted distance for the rally stretches up to 170 km in three different routes from the borders.

More than 1 lakh tractors were called in from Punjab for the tractor rally to take place in the 3 border points of Delhi. A very interesting incident happened during the commute came put via Twitter. A farmer from Punjab drove to Delhi in reverse gear throughout the journey as an act to symbolise the urge to the government to ‘reverse’ the laws. This makes very clear the fact that the farmers are and will stay firm on the cause they began the protest with- the repealing of the farm laws, and are in no mood to settle for anything else, which the government is desperately trying its hands on. Farmer Union leaders expressed how this tractor march is their immediate concern and it is to make sure the world witnesses the plight and power of farmers of the country, all at the same time.

Cases of violence amidst the peaceful farmer protests recently started coming out as some political leaders, who have been a part of protests against the nee farm laws, alleged some mischievous elements from within the crowd to try murderous acts on them. The political leaders in question are Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu with Amritsar MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla and party MLA Kulbir Singh Zira, who were apparently pushed around, attacked and witnessed damage to their vehicle. This mischievous movement from within the otherwise peaceful crowd points at the presence of outside elements pretending to be farmers at the border spots, which aims at disrupting the whole determined and patient process of the now 60-day peaceful protest by farmer groups from across the country.

One thing that makes a democracy successful is a good opposition, because it helps keep the ruling party on track. However, with Congress as the opposition, the voices have been so severely weak that Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed NDA government acted like free reign in the face of democracy and brought down the spirit of India’s democracy significantly in the eyes of the world. While the youth is trying its best for representation via respective social media channels, congress leaders, after joining hands with several like-minded parties, have decided to strengthen their disagreement with the new farm laws. The party has allegedly claimed to strongly raise concerns over the farmer’s agitation in the coming Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha sessions until assured the government does nothing less than repealing the new agricultural laws.

However, what actually went down was very different from what was planned and it was disappointing, to say the least. You can’t just see black and white, pick a side and accuse the other. One of the most important things to realise about what happened yesterday was how most of it was grey.

Before getting it to what happened, it is imperative to note that the situation right now is very fragile and believing all you hear would only fuel the fire. So, until full and correct information is disclosed, refrain from believing it, especially what the media channels are showing because that information is uprightly biased and provocative.

As for what is known from the reports of eye-witnesses, the predetermined route, as mentioned before, had barricades in the middle of it and thus, people from Singhu border had to break those barricades to move forward or choose the path not precluded in the permission. Breaking the barricades worsened the situation as to a non-peaceful turn and the hassle on both sides led to lathi charge and tear gas bombs by police and stone pelting and rash tractor driving ny the farmers. It is also alleged that the atone pelting that began from their end involved goons from outside the farmer unions and did this to create hassle on purpose, as per the 13 reports filed with the Delhi Police.

With teargas bombs and lathis, the haywire made people run out and above, and as witnessed by lakhs of people, the otherwise 60 day-long peaceful protests turned violent. Even though reports of what really went down is still to come out, it can be surely said the media is trying to distort the facts in a way that the entire movement ends up getting revoked. It’s even hard to pin down the rush of emotions the country felt yesterday, and it most certainly is heart-breaking.

One of the tear shell bombs hit the head of a tractor driver and a farmer died. This unrest led to a group of people marching with about 20 tractors in the Red Fort and forcefully entering and unfurling the Kisaan Ekta flag and Nishaan Sahib next to the Indian tricolour. This act is thoroughly condemnable and points to the communal nature of the protest, which at the end of the day it is not. People of the country have lashed out on the incident, and for all the right reasons because the move was very uncalled for. Instigated or influenced, whatever went down in the Red Fort was beyond acceptability, even for farmer union leaders.

The entire violent shake down resulted in injuries to a number of police personnel and farmers, with a death of 1 farmer.

But if you come to think of it, people have been dying on roads for the past 60 days in hopes of government listening to them but all they’ve got in return are blank deadlines and inconclusive meetings. The violence that broke down yesterday was nothing but condemnable, but too believe after 2 months of patience and resilience farmer groups would deliberately resort to violence doesn’t make sense. Things did go out of hand but at the end of the day, it was a protest. There will always be a few people that take actions in the heat of the moment among the lakhs present and tossing the entire struggle for its sake wouldn’t be fair. Farm groups and union leaders have taken responsibility and accountability for the disruption caused.

The farmers’ rally was conducted not only in the national capital but also in the states of Bangalore, Mumbai, Punjab, Haryana and the like that have extended their support to the protesting farmers.

Well nonetheless, we can draw an uncanny resemblance to the 6th January US Capitol attack by the Trump supporters. That attack was instigated by the supporters of the power-hungry leader. Well, this may be the case for India as well. There are conspiracies floating around that the attackers were politically motivated groups working under the influence of the ruling party with the intent of tarnishing the image of the peaceful protestors who had been gaining immense public support all this while. But again, all we have with us right now are assumptions and mind-boggling scenarios of what actually happened.

At the end of the day, there’s no justification for the violence that took place on India’s 72nd Republic Day. But not giving both the sides a fair to chance to explain what happened would be wrong, to say the least. The farmers’ movement, revolution and struggle was much more than a few people losing control and turning violent- it is about a number of people coming together and fighting against the authoritarian regime that chose to ignore their plea for the longest time.

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