The fact that Khalistani sympathisers have hijacked the Farmers’ Protest against three Farm Laws for their hidden agenda is no longer a closely guarded secret as actor-activist Deep Sidhu, who repeatedly sings praise of Bhindranwale, and Lakha Sidhana have now been identified instigating farmers to hoist the Sikh flag on Red Fort
-Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar
Mahatma Gandhi famously discontinued the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1922 following the burning of a police station at Chauri Chaura in Uttar Pradesh. He felt that the movement had lost its moral compass and could not continue in the form he had envisioned.
Ironically, self-proclaimed Gandhians in the ongoing Farmers’ protest on the outskirts of Delhi/NCR have shown little remorse for anti-social elements, who demonstrated their lack of reverence for the Motherland by unfurling religious flags on Red Fort in Delhi. One even managed to infamously unfurl his religious flag on the flag-pole on which the Indian tricolour is unfurled by the Prime Minister of India on Independence Day. These protesters injured 300 policemen and caused wanton destruction of properties across the national capital. A protester also died when his tractor overturned. The farmers marched to Delhi carrying Indian flags on their tractors and in their hands, but the person climbing the pole openly and brazenly threw away the national Tricolour.
Hijacking Farmers’ Agenda
The flags that were put up were not of the Bharatiya Kisan Union or organisations that joined the protest. Nishan Sahib, a flag with a special religious connotation for Sikhs, could be seen fluttering from the ramparts of the fort. While the flag being unfurled in a place where the Indian national flag is unfurled usually may be improper, what is more problematic is the open alignment and association of some of the protesters with the Khalistani cause.
Punjabi actor-singer-activist Deep Sidhu, who the farmer unions have alleged was responsible for leading the protesters to the Red Fort, has been quoting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale ever since the protest against the Farm Laws started. Posters of Bhindranwale could be seen in the protest, something which pro-Khalistani outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) had been urging farmers to display a couple of days before the conflagration.
Regarding it as an opportunity to fight for all Indian farmers, members of Khalistani separatist groups such as Sikh DMV Youth and Sangat were seen joining the protests outside the Indian Embassy in Washington DC
Khalistani Sympathisers in Farmers’ Protest
We must look more closely at members and organisations in the protest who have had problematic associations, particularly around the Khalistani cause and with respect to Bhindranwale, to see for ourselves how deep this rot is.
According to sources, Deep Sidhu, who publicly spoke in favour of Bhindranwale is said to have instigated protesters with gangster Lakha Sidhana. Both have been campaigning at Singhu border since November.
While prominent individuals who are not only supporting but in certain cases leading the farmers protest having sympathies with Bhindranwale or Khalistan may be problematic in itself, the systematic participation of groups that are openly pro-Khalistan raises further eyebrows. If in the former case (of individuals), correlation may not be causation, in the latter case (of organisations) the pro-active role of organisations who are primarily single-issue organisations (seeking Khalistan) in the farmers protest is extremely troubling!
Pakistan’s ISI hand
While there has been a case of terrorist activities against Kisan Mukti Sangram Samiti president Akhil Gogoi (FIR No. 1688/2019, National Investigative Agency) and a case of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 against Surjit Singh Phul – leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari), along with Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) being founded by Dr Darshan Pal who along with Maoists such as Vara Vara Rao, Kalyan Rao, Medha Patkar, Nandita Haksar, SAR Geelani and BR Sarma founded the People’s Democratic Front of India, the dangerous and direct correlation with Khalistani activities of a participating organisation is seen in the case of Khalsa Aid, allegedly a front organisation of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), as mentioned in the case RC-05/2012/NIA/DLI of the National Investigative Agency and purported to have financed UK-based BKI operatives such as Balbir Singh Bains and Joga Singh. Khalsa Aid has been actively participating and mobilising people for the Farmers’ Protest.
SFJ, the US-based secessionist organisation announced a $1 million grant to farmers for Khalistan support and said that it would grant Rs. 5,000 as assistance to repay their agriculture loans to all those farmers who register “25 votes for the Khalistan Referendum 2020”. Previously, SFJ had announced a reward of $250,000 for unfurling the Khalistani flag at India Gate. Sources in the Delhi police have highlighted a ‘huge conspiracy’ hatched between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and “rogue elements linked to Khalistani outfits’ to disrupt the tractor rally.
Diluting Agitation through Problematic Platforming
Those who keep speaking of not convoluting the two issues of Farmers’ Protests and the Khalistani cause can hopefully see the direct correlation that some radical groups are actively trying to establish. This is highly unfortunate since genuine concerns of farmers of India are now getting drowned in a sea of cacophony and misappropriation of the stage by radical elements who seem to have a hidden agenda.
If Indian Sikhs seek to voice their concerns regarding representation and self-determination within India, that is a separate and equally legitimate issue. Even there the secessionist and violent tendencies of the Khalistani movement are not welcome. I see my Indian Sikh brothers and sisters as an integral part of the Indian State, without whom India would not be Bharat. We have had a Sikh President, a Sikh Prime Minister, a Sikh Chief Justice of India and two Chief of the Army Staff in the past. I would like to encourage those sections of the Indian Sikh community who still have outlying issues on representation, self-determination or other miscellaneous grievances that need to be resolved to engage with the Indian State – their State, to resolve those problems.
Coming to the current crisis around the Farm Acts, it is time for the Indian government and the honorable Supreme Court of India to take cognisance of the situation and resolve the two-pronged crisis. One of sorting out any concerns and issues of the farmers of India regarding the Farm Acts 2020 and secondly of the proxy war that some organizations seem to be waging through the platform and cause of the Farmers Protest. The farmer who feeds the nation or whose son is in the army cannot be anti-national. By desecrating the national capital on 26 January 2021, the protesters let down all farmers.
Dissent, not destruction, is part and parcel of democracy, even as liberalism in a mobocracy is like a fish out of water.
We must engage with the farmers and work with them to find a common ground, without being misguided by petty politics and hidden agendas.
Any agitation or perturbation that comes to the fore, to question shortcomings of an existent socio-political system or policy must be on the lines of prudent agitation that steers clear of convoluting other issues into its aim, particularly problematic associations and alignments, and thereby diluting their own cause and moral ground.
After all, winds of change and reform can only make a difference when they are more than whiffs of air in disarray.
I unequivocally stand for the farmers, not for the misguided radicals who are sabotaging their cause.