It was a state of shock to observe the police turning violent with a lathicharge in the national capital, on Gandhi Jayanti and also the world Non-Violence Day, on the farmers on their peaceful march as a part of Kisan Kranti Padyatra in order to call over the demand of loan waiver to reduce fuel prices.
On October 2, at least 30,000 farmers walked and travelled in tractors from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh as a part of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). They were supposed to end their rally at Kisan Ghat, the memorial of renowned farmer leader Chaudhary Charan Singh, near Raj Ghat, but were stopped at the heavily-barricaded Delhi-UP border. Angry farmers tried to break the barriers and raised slogans forcing the police to use batons, tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse them. Several protesters were injured in the process. Later in the day, the government announced that the committee of Chief Ministers will look into their demands. However, the farmers aren’t satisfied with the centre’s response hence, they decided to continue the protest.
BJP spokesperson Avdhut Wagh argued defending the government and said, “There are some restrictions of conducting any morcha and if the protesters violate those rules, start overstepping the jurisdiction, police will definitely stop them. Why were the protesters, instead of mourning on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti and maintain peace in the surroundings, come on the roads agitating? There are many other ways to approach the government.”
“The government has already announced a loan waiver and working towards farmers’ welfare. Since the protesters violated protesting rules, the police stopped them. The Centre has nothing to do with it. Although, whatever has happened during the march is just a coincidence to happen on Gandhi Jayanti,” he added.
While it is widely known that for Gandhiji non-violence was not merely a policy, but a way of life. He observed it in the thought, word and deed. After looking at the gruesome act to harm farmers, experts believe that the Modi-led BJP government that speaks about the teachings of Gandhi every now and then, but in reality, the party seems to be failing to follow his footsteps and ideologies. The question also arises that why is the government scared of a group of marching farmers?
AAP leader Ravi Srivastava commented that if we can’t improve farmers’ livelihood, the country can never progress. The Delhi government was totally kept in dark regarding Tuesday’s incident and the law and order is not under the Delhi government’s control.
He further continued, “It is indeed ironical that the present central government, that uses Mahatma Gandhi’s name for their every fresh scheme and worships Gandhi, has supported the police to lathicharge, use water cannon, tear gas shells on the peaceful protest march by the farmers rather than fulfilling their demands of loan waiver and cut in fuel prices. A few state governments have already approved the loan waiver scheme but its implementation is yet to happen. Fuel price hike is a pain to each and every citizen of the country and the government instead of waiving extra excise duty, continues adding extra. Both Akhilesh Yadav and Kejriwal support the farmers’ protest.”
The opposition parties have attacked the centre over the police action, and what they call as unfulfilled promises and increasing farmer distress. Rahul Gandhi vented his anguish stating, “BJP’s two-year-old Gandhi Jayanti celebration on World International Day of Non-Violence began with the savage thrashing of farmers peacefully coming to Delhi. Now, the farmers cannot even come to the national capital to express their pain!” Earlier during the day, adding fuel to the fire, political leaders including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and other political leaders criticised the Modi government as the farmers’ protest turned intense. “Farmers should be allowed to enter Delhi. Why are they not being allowed to enter Delhi? This is wrong. We are with the farmers,” Kejriwal was quoted as saying to a news agency.
Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh expressed, “The farmers of our country are only sacrificing their lives and the incumbent government has fallen flat on all their assurances to them. Farmers are committing suicide every day. Mahatma Gandhi with his life had given the Indian citizens their right to fight. If our government attacks the farmers, who are in such a pity condition, then there must be something wrong in the governance. An emergency-like situation has been created in the country; whoever speaks against the ruling party, will surely be beaten up. Gandhiji has always spread the message of love and non-violence; BJP must learn the ideologies of Mahatma before using his name for political purposes.”
The farmers who were attacked brutally while they were fighting for their rights especially on the International Day of Non-Violence is considered as an eyebrow-raising incident. The BJP government must stop preaching Gandhiji, if they cannot follow his ideologies. The farmers’ list of demands includes unconditional loan waiver for farmers, clearing of dues by sugar mills, higher prices for crops, free electricity for farms and a cut in diesel prices.
By Twinkle Mehta & Suraj Chandran