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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/27/21

Indian farmer leaders condemn deadly violence but won't call off protests

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Farmers Protest: Thousands March To Mumbai To Protest Farm Laws, Sharad Pawar To Join Farmers Protest: Thousands of farmers from 21 districts of Maharashtra - among tens of thousands across India who are protesting against the centre's new ...
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Farmer leaders in India have condemned deadly violence in the capital Delhi during a massive protest against agricultural reforms on Tuesday where one person was killed and around 300 policemen were injured.

Thousands of farmers clashed with police as protestors forced to the Red Fort where a Khalsa flag was raised along with Indian national flag. The farmers Tractor March overshadowed the Indian Republic Day parade.

The leaders blamed the violence on rogue elements among an otherwise peaceful march. However, they said that they the protest would not be called off.

Harmeet Singh Kadian, president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Kadian faction), said that the Red Fort incident was a "conspiracy and machination" at the behest of the Government to "sabotage the farmers' protests".

Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella group of protesting farmers, said in a statement: "We condemn and regret the undesirable and unacceptable events that have taken place and dissociate ourselves from those indulging in such acts. Despite all our efforts, some organizations and individuals have violated the route and indulged in condemnable acts. Anti-social elements have infiltrated our otherwise peaceful movement. We have always held that peace is our biggest strength, and that any violation would hurt the movement. We dissociate ourselves from all such elements that have violated our discipline."

"The act of unfurling religious flags will provide the government an opportunity to begin a propaganda war against the peasant movement. There is a need to mobilize efforts to keep intact the secular and democratic character of this struggle" these communal elements must be routed and driven away," said Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU, Ugrahan faction).

Earlier, speaking to The Indian Express, Ugrahan, spoke about the role of actor Deep Sidhu, among others, in Tuesday's events. "We saw faces of actor Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana on social media and found that they were misguiding the youth. None of the farmer unions had planned to go towards Red Fort. I really wonder what was the motive behind what they did. Our peaceful agitation got a different color today. It should have been avoided."

While condemning the incident at Red Fort, Gurnam Singh Chaduni, president of BKU Haryana, said, "We condemn the action of people like Deep Sidhu who are the middlemen of the government" He incited people to go to Outer Ring Road and later took them to Red Fort." He added, "I want to clarify that this andolan is not a religious andolan, it is a jan andolan, a kisan andolan (people's movement, farmers' movement). People should be vigilant about persons like Deep Sidhu and should also stay away from rumors as well."

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader and national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, when asked if the protests had gone out of the hands of farm leaders, told ANI, "We know the people who are trying to create disturbance" they have been identified. There are people from political parties who are trying to malign the agitation."

How extremist elements hijacked farmers' rally?

The Tribune India reported Tuesday that amid slogans of 'Raj karega Khalsa' (Sikhs will rule), actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu handed over a 'kesri' flag to a man to hoist on the ramparts of the Red Ford.

Despite being shunned by farmer unions at various stages of the ongoing anti-farm law agitation, Deep Sidhu has been attempting to take a leadership role in the movement for the past several months.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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