The Hypocrisy of ‘Farmers Protests’ and Government’s Slumber
The Lakhimpur-Kheri violence was a turning point of sorts in the course of the farmers’ ‘protest’. The incident occurred when an SUV car – being driven by the driver of a BJP minister, with the minister’s son inside the car – rammed into the protesting farmers. The aftermath was followed by the lynching of BJP workers. In total, 8 people died, with 4 from each side, while many were injured. Whether the car-ramming was accidental can only be determined by law enforcement. However, as per eye-witness and video accounts, the protesting farmers refused to listen to police and clashed with the BJP convoy, leading to clashes between the two sides, in which the car rammed into the farmers. This led to an aftermath of further violence and lynching of BJP workers.
The union minister’s son, Ashish Mishra, was arrested subsequently. Presently, the Supreme Court has taken suo moto notice of the case, and the UP government investigation is ongoing. The politicized issue will likely languish in the government corridors without any conclusion.
The tragic incident has brought to fore how the farmers’ protest has completely gone out of hand, focusing on settling scores in poll-bound states rather than on farm laws issue which is supposed to be its key plank. Even as the union government continues to ignore the protest completely, the latter has taken the liberty to transform from a protest to a blackmailing vandalism, with the so-called ‘farmers’ blocking roads perpetually, spreading obstructionism in poll-bound states and even committing murders. The murder of a Dalit Sikh by Nihang Sikhs at the Singhu border – the key site of farmers’ protest – is not something that the government should have ignored.
But despite these murders and vandalism, the union government continues to remain insulated in its selfish bubbles. Despite having strong facts and narrative on its side, the government – forget taking action – has been incapable of even showing farmers in a negative light. This is despite the murders and vandalism they have committed. In Punjab, the ruling Congress – ever since the change of guard in the state – has successfully stoked communal fires. Sikhs marched recently in Gurdaspur, openly chanting slogans of ‘Azaadi’ and ‘Khalistan’. Despite the fact that Congress is at its weakest since decades, yet the ruling BJP could not prevent it from its mischief. Not since the last two decades the militancy in Punjab has revived, but thanks to the selfish and complacent attitude of the union government, even that distant possibility seems plausible now. The way this protest is heading is something that any responsible government would not ignore.
The present government needs to realize that not everything in the country is done for political mileage. The farce of farmers’ protest should not be allowed to play out any longer.
Minority Killings in Kashmir
Almost 11 civilians – mostly minority and non-locals – were killed by terrorists in Kashmir within a span of 15 days. The killings have triggered action from the government in the form of tighter security arrangements, greater troop deployment and rise in detentions of suspects. In the aftermath of the Home Minister’s visit, a new State Investigation Agency (SIA) – a specialized agency for terrorism cases – was also formed to coordinate with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other central agencies.
The group behind the killings – The Resistance Front (TRF) – is a hybrid of terrorist organizations like LeT, JeM, Hizbul etc. It was formed in 2019 and has become highly active, especially in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, US withdrawal from the region and increased support from Pakistan. While abrogating Article 370 has cushioned India against the much-worse fate that could have awaited Kashmir, the recent developments still spell a security situation for India, closely interlinked with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The new mode of hybrid warfare also spells a headache for India. It is based on Pakistan recruiting ‘neo recruits or hybrid terrorists’, who are first-time Kashmiri youth – not previously on security agencies’ radar – who carry out one-time attacks and then return the arms to their Pakistani handlers, returning to live as normal civilians. As per government assessments, this calls for an even more micro-managed and pro-active response, cracking down on overground workers, tracking people closely and detailed surveillance of civilians.