Since the protesting farmers hardened their stand against the Center’s new farm laws they were labelled as Khalistani to demoralize agitation. Sikh’s farmers were the centre of attraction in this entire saga. The Bharatiya Janata Party alleged that the Khalistani agenda is being propagated under the garb of the Punjab farmers’ agitation and accused the Congress which is in office in the state — of aligning with radical elements.
BJP IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya tweeted that an alleged video of protesting farmers where a man is heard citing PM Indira Gandhi’s assassination in an apparent bid to threaten PM Modi should their 3 December discussions with the government fail to resolve their grievances against the farm laws. Since then, the hate against Sikhs rose among certain sects.
They are hassled on social media; they are trolled and threatened. Most of the TV channels are projecting Sikh’s as anti-nationals and anti-Modi. The hate knows no boundary; minorities are always under attack but this time its Sikhs at large. Successful agitation dominated by Sikhs for reversal in 3 farm laws is seen as resistance to the otherwise invincible chariot of the Modi-Shah duo.
Though defamation of Sikhs is not a new phenomenon, an exponential increase in hate comments and actions have been observed in what seems like a well thought out narrative building exercise. Ever since the start of the Protest in June 2020 – Barring a few, most mainstream media ran from pillar to post to declare it terrorists led the movement to destabilize India. Efforts were made to make it a “Sikh vs Nation” and paint Sikhs as anti-India. Though that remained mostly unsuccessful primarily due to the presence Hindu Jaat community on the ground, narratives got traction online and in areas not close to ground zero.
Lakhimpur Khiri where BJP sitting Union minister’s son used his jeep to crush farmers, were all Sikhs. Most recently, the PM’s unsuccessful trip to Ferozpur (Punjab) calling for a repeat of 1984 can be trending on social media. There hasn’t been any action taken by police, judiciary, or administration to take notice of serious intimidations, so far. In fact, the hollow rhetoric of “Sikhs vs. India” has been propagated intensely by most of the national media.
BJP is wounded because Punjab’s Sikh Majority always spurned Modi’s Hindutva agendas. During the Lok Sabha elections, Congress won eight out of 13 seats, it was all because of the BJP’s obvious Hindutva agenda which motivated Sikh voters to shun the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine. The Narendra Modi-Amit Shah brand of majoritarian politics has had a startling impact on elections in Punjab, dismantling traditional voting patterns, consolidation of the Hindu votes and creation of an insecure Sikh community. Punjab is India’s only Sikh majority state and here, religion and politics have been working hand-in-hand much before the BJP gave Hindutva to the nation.
For long, the SAD-BJP alliance worked well, its arithmetic based on the premise that while the SAD – which claims to champion the rights of Sikhs – brought in the Sikh votes, the Hindus, at least in urban areas, mostly voted for the BJP and the combine had smooth sailing for a while, winning election after election. But overdoing on their agenda and always attacking Sikhs did not go well with BJP’s fortune in Punjab. Punjab always opposed the Arya samaj (Hindu supremacist thinking) and BJP is all about pro casteism. For more than a few decades, the SAD represented Sikh politics in Punjab, in line with the Sikh concept of ‘Miri Piri wherein it wielded political power to watch over the political interests of Sikhs while the Akal Takhat and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) looked after the spiritual aspects. The Akal Takht, the highest temporal authority for Sikhs, has condemned the Modi government’s farm laws, slammed the RSS for being “divisive” and even called for a ban on it earlier this year.
Sikh achievers from several fields – from Sahitya Akademi Award-winning literary figures to Arjuna Award-winning sportspersons, decorated soldiers and prominent scientists – have returned awards given to them by the government. Somewhere Sikh Community gave a strong message to Modi and his government that they don’t like the way they play decisive politics.
Recently the failed rally of Modi, Punjab is portrayed as a bloodthirsty state that was trying to eliminate the PM, there was a lot of social media uproar and a series of Primetime debates accusing Congress and Sikhs as anti-establishment. People are made to believe that the attempt was made to attack Modi but he somehow recused himself. With such wrong narratives and misinterpretations of events, what are they trying? Another 1984 like riots?