Bohiragoto - Joesjoint x National Animal
A song of rebellion and disillusionment. Bohiragoto - is Bengali for an outsider, immigrant, and a stranger in a foreign land, something the protesting farmers, Muslims and other minority groups have been called in an attempt to delegitimize their protest. So what are Bhiragoto and Notun Shohoj Path about? Well, to begin with, #NotunShohojPath and this song especially, addresses the current fascist state of affairs in the country, standing in absolute solidarity with the millions of farmers fighting tooth and nail, braving the freezing weather...their resistance has become so powerful, the state is at a loss about what they should do. India's fascist state party and oligarchy of Adani and Ambani, the very people who have been trying to push for making the absolutely unconstitutional, anti-people Farmer's Bill a reality. By Joesjoint xJatiyo Poshu, EI Entertainment, NA MI Bijoya, Akash,, GK Production and Studio, and of course, Aranya/ The Scarlet Underground for creating the video!
#BanglaRap #Bohiragoto #NewLeftMovment #ProtestMusic #MusicOfResistance
Everything You Need To Know About the 2020-2021 Farmers' protest and the Farm Bill
The 2020–2021 Indian farmers' protest is an ongoing protest against three farm acts that were passed by the Parliament of India in September 2020. As of 21 March 2021, according to Haryana Police, there are at least 40,000 committed protestors sitting at Singhu and Tikri at the Delhi border.
Farmer unions and their representatives have demanded that the laws be repealed and have stated that they will not accept a compromise.\Farmer leaders have welcomed the Supreme Court of India stay order on the implementation of the farm laws but rejected the committee appointed by the Supreme Court. Farmer leaders have also rejected a government proposal, dated 21 January 2021, of suspending the laws for 18 months. Eleven rounds of talks have taken place between the central government and farmers represented by the farm unions between 14 October 2020 and 22 January 2021; all were inconclusive. On 3 February, farmer leaders warned of escalating the protest to overthrowing the government if the farm laws were not repealed. The stay order on the implementation of the farm laws remains in effect, and the Supreme Court-appointed committee continues with its tasks related to the farm laws. Six state governments (Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi, and West Bengal) have passed resolutions against the farms acts, and three states (Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan) have tabled counter legislation in their respective state assemblies. None of the counter legislation passed the respective state governors.
The acts, often called the Farm Bills, have been described as "anti-farmer laws" by many farmer unions, and politicians from the opposition also say it would leave farmers at the "mercy of corporates". The farmers have also demanded the creation of a Minimum Support Price (MSP) bill, to ensure that corporates cannot control the prices. The government, however, maintains that the laws will make it effortless for farmers to sell their produce directly to big buyers, and stated that the protests are based on misinformation.
Soon after the acts were introduced, unions began holding local protests, mostly in Punjab. After two months of protests, farmer unions—mainly from Punjab and Haryana—began a movement named Dilli Chalo (transl. Let's go to Delhi), in which tens of thousands of farming union members marched towards the nation's capital. The Indian government ordered the police and law enforcement of various states to attack the protesters using water cannons, batons, and tear gas to prevent the farmer unions from entering into Haryana first and then Delhi. On 26 November 2020, a nationwide general strike of 250 million people, as per trade unions claim, took place in support of the farmer unions. On 30 November, an estimated crowd of 200,000 and 300,000 farmers was converging at various border points on the way to Delhi. On 21 March specific mention was made of Bengaluru, "….you (farmers) have to turn Bengaluru into Delhi. You will have to lay siege to the city from all directions". Transport unions representing over 14 million truck drivers have come out in support of the farmer unions. On 26 January, tens of thousands of the farmers held a farmer's parade with a large convoy of tractors and drove into Delhi. The protesters deviated from the pre-sanctioned routes permitted by the Delhi Police. The tractor rally turned into a violent protest at certain points as the protesting farmers drove through the barricades and clashed with the police. Later protesters reached Red Fort and installed farmer union flags on the mast on the rampart of the Red Fort.
As of 16 April 2021, the farmers' demands include:
- Convene a special Parliament session to repeal the farm laws
- Make MSP and state procurement of crops a legal right
- Assurances that conventional procurement system will remain
- Implement Swaminathan Panel Report and peg MSP at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production
- Cut diesel prices for agricultural use by 50%
- Repeal of Commission on Air Quality Management in NCR and the adjoining Ordinance 2020 and removal of punishment and fine for stubble burning
- Release of farmers arrested for burning paddy stubble in Punjab
- Abolishing the Electricity Ordinance 2020
- Centre should not interfere in state subjects, decentralization in practice
- Withdrawal of all cases against and release of farmer leaders
Farmers have been insistent over repealing the farm laws. Even after the government offered to stay the farm laws for 18 months on 21 January 2021, the farmers refused the stay and pushed for repeal. Other than the farm unions and leaders, people such as Markandey Katju and Thol. Thirumavalavan has also made statements in relation to staying the farm laws.[
March to Delhi, 27 November
In Punjab, small-scale protests had started in August 2020 when the Farm Bills were made public. It was only after the passage of the acts that more farmers and farm unions across India joined the protests against the reforms. On 25 September 2020 farm unions all over India called for a Bharat Bandh (lit. transl. nation-wide shutting down) to protest against these farm laws. The most widespread protests took place in Punjab, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh but demonstrations were also reported in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Kerala, and other states. Railway services have remained suspended in Punjab for more than two months due to the protests, starting from October. Following this, farmers from different states then marched to Delhi to protest against the laws. Farmers also criticized the national media for misrepresenting the protest.From 12 December, farmer unions took over highway toll plazas in Haryana and allowed free movement of vehicles. In certain parts of India, bullock-cart rallies in support of farmer's protest have also been organized by marginal farmers.
Under the coordination of bodies such as Samyukt Kisan Morcha and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, the protesting farm unions include:
Rakesh Tikait, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU Uttar Pradesh)
Balbir Singh Rajewal, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU Rajewal)
Farm Union leaders during the protest
Transport bodies such as the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), representing about 9.5 million truckers and 5 million bus and taxi drivers, have threatened to halt the movement of supplies in the northern states, and if the government fails to address the farmer's issues, it would be done nationwide. After a meeting with government officials and 30 union representatives, "the farmers have rejected the government's proposals," Darshan Pal, president of the Krantikari Kisan Union told the press on 8 December 2020.
On 24 September 2020, farmers started a "Rail roko" (transl. "stop the trains") campaign, following which train services to and from Punjab were affected. Farmers extended the campaign into October. On 23 October, some farmer unions decided to call off the campaign, as supplies of fertilizer and other goods in the state were starting to run short.
See also: Indian general strike of 2020
After failing to get the support of their respective state governments, the farmers decided to pressure the Central Government by marching to Delhi. On 25 November 2020, protesters from the Dilli Chalo (transl. "let us go to Delhi") campaign were met by police at the borders of the city.The police employed the use of tear gas and water cannons, dug up roads, and used layers of barricades and sand barriers to stop the protesters, leading to at least three farmer casualties. Amidst the clashes, on 27 November, media highlighted the actions of a youth who jumped onto a police water cannon targeting protesting farmers and turned it off. He was later charged with attempted murder.
The march on Delhi was accompanied by a 24-hour strike of 250 million people across India on 26 November 2020 in opposition to both the farm law reform and proposed changes to labour law.
Between 28 November and 3 December, the number of farmers blocking Delhi in the Delhi Chalo was estimated at 150 to 300 thousand.
The Central Government Of India announced they would for discussing the future of the new farm laws on 3 December 2020, despite the protesters' demands that the talks took place immediately. It was decided that the government would only talk to a select group of farmer unions. The Prime Minister would be absent in this meeting. The KSMC, a leading kissan jatha (transl. farmer organisation) refused to join this meeting for these reasons. While the Center wanted the farmers to move away from Delhi to a protest site in Burari the farmers preferred to stay at the borders and instead put forward a proposal of protesting at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi.
The farmers' unions announced that on 4 December they would burn effigies of PM Modi and leaders of corporations. Prominent personalities began announcing their plans to return their awards and medals received from the Central Government. On 7 December, farmers announced their plan to organize a Bharat Bandh (national strike) on 8 December. After talks with the central government failed to find a solution on 5 December, farmers confirmed their plans for a national strike on 8 December. Further talks were planned for 9 December.
On 9 December 2020, the farmers' unions rejected the government's proposals for changes in-laws, even as the Centre in a written proposal assured the minimum support price for crops. The farmers also said they will block the Delhi-Jaipur highway on 12 December and nationwide dharnas will be called on 14 December 2020. On 13 December, Rewari police barricaded the Rajasthan-Haryana border to stop farmers from marching to Delhi, and the farmers responded by sitting on the road and blocking the Delhi-Jaipur highway in protest.
On 26 January 2021, Republic Day, hundreds of thousands protested in Delhi, where tractor rallies and a storming of the historic Red Fort took place. One person died in the protest as his tractor overturned on him. Later, the postmortem also confirmed that he died due to haemorrhage due to head injuries.
Blocking of border and roads
Affected borders and locations due to the farmer protests around Delhi
A number of borders, including the Kundli Border, Dhansa border, Jharoda Kalan border, Tikri border, Singhu border, Kalindi Kunj border, Chilla border, Bahadurgarh border and Faridabad border, were blocked by protesters during the protests. On 29 November, the protesters announced that they would block five further points of entry into Delhi, namely Ghaziabad-Hapur, Rohtak, Sonipat, Jaipur and Mathura.
On 28 January, the residents of the border villages which the farmers occupied, staged protests to make farmers vacate the sites as it affected their commute. They also accused the farmers of disrespecting the tricolor at Red Fort. At the Ghazipur border, the Ghaziabad administration imposed Section 144 and passed orders to vacate the protest sites. In a similar protest by the locals at the Singhu border on 29 January, they clashed with protesting farmers, and stones were pelted from both sides. Police used tear gas and lathi charge to disperse them off.
In early February, metal barricades, cement walls, and iron nails were put up at the roads leading to the three main borders (Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur) to block any vehicles from entering Delhi. Barbed fences were also put up to prevent people from entering Delhi on foot.
As of 22 March 2021 a number of Delhi borders remain shut. There are around 40,000 protestors sitting at Singhu and Tikri.
Republic Day Kisan Parade
Main article: 2021 Farmers' Republic Day violence
On 26 January, tens of thousands of the farmers protesting agricultural reforms held a parade with a large convoy of tractors and drove into Delhi. The farmers drove in long lines of tractors, riding horses or marching on foot. The parade started from Singhu Border, Tikri Border, and Ghazipur in Delhi on the routes approved by the Police. The farmers were barred from entering the central part of the city where the official Republic Day parade was taking place. At the Singhu Border starting point, according to the police estimates, around 7000 tractors had gathered. Reuters reported citing farmers' unions that close to 200,000 tractors had participated.
At around 8 am, a few hours early from the permitted time, farmers started to gather separately at Ghazipur, Singhu, and Tikri borders. The tractor rally commenced from the Singhu border and was designated to follow a decided route. However, as the rally progressed, it deviated and marched towards other routes. The protestors marched towards ITO metro station and the city centre, and broke through the barricades. The Delhi Police used tear gas and baton charged the protesting farmers leading to clashes. Several metro stations were closed and mobile internet was suspended by Police.
The protestors entered the Red Fort of Delhi, and one of the farmers was seen climbing a flagpole in front of the fort and hoisting the Sikh flag Nishan Sahib on the flagpole. The clash between police and farmers also caused damage to facilities inside the fort. 394 policemen and thousands of farmers were reported injured, 30 police vehicles were damaged and internet services were suspended for hours in several parts of Delhi and the NCR region. The police took hours in vacating the fort premises after continuous announcements and use of force.
After the 26 January tractor march, the police constructed cement barricades, dug trenches, and cemented nails at all three borders where farmers continue to protest.The barricading and police have restricted the movement of locals, farmers, as well as journalists to the protest sites. At the Ghazipur border, farmer leaders alleged that the water and electricity supply was cut off.
Scores of langars and makeshift kitchens have been deployed by farmer's organizations and NGOs to meet the food needs of the tens of thousands of farmers in the farmers-camps that have sprung up on the borders of Delhi after the Delhi Police barred the farmers from entering the city on 26 November 2020. These langars work round the clock and provide free food without distinction of caste, class, or religion. The hot meals provided by the langars include lentils, seasonal vegetables, roti, buttermilk, and tea. Delhi-based media outlets have made significant commentary on some aspects of the langars, such as the use of mechanical roti makers which can cook 1000 roti an hour, or when farmers were seen eating pizzas made by the langar at the Singhu border, which drew mockery of the farmer's movement from the right-wing. The media also made adverse comments on farmer's consumption of dried fruits and nuts such as cashews and raisins at an "almond langar" provided by beneficent NRIs.Organizations engaged in setting up and running langars include Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Committee at Singhu border; Baba Kashmir Singh ji Bhuriwale sect, Tikri border; Khalsa Aid; Dera Baba Jagtar Singh from Tarn Taran, Delhi based Jamindara Student Organisation; Gurdwara Head Darbar Kot Puran, Ropar, Muslim Federation of Punjab, and several others, including NRI-NGOs which have pitched in with aid in kind. Along with the langars, a makeshift school has been set up at the camp, mostly for children who are unable to attend school due to financial issues and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Accommodation and supplies
In addition to food, and tea, the farmers in the camps, are being supported by domestic and international NGOs, including UK based NGO Khalsa Aid, with provisions of tents, solar-powered mobile charging points, laundry, library, medical stalls, dental camp, which did tooth retraction, cleaning, filling, and scaling treatments, foot massage chairs for elderly protesters.
Visuals from a section of the protests at the Singhu border
Security and control
At the Singhu border, farmers have installed eight CCTV cameras to keep a watch on the protest site, "[...] since there are so many people coming in now. We come to know of incidents where people with ulterior motives try to create problems. This way, we can keep a record of what is happening and counter any narrative to blame us for any anti-social activity," said a farmer from Sanyukt Kisan Morcha's CCTV department.
On 20 December 2020, the day the farmer's collectively condoled the deaths of farmers, the death toll was 41.On 30 December 2020, it was over 50. On 2 January 2021, the estimate of dead-farmers had reached 57. On 8 January 2021, the week following the onset of winter rains, death toll of farmers including death by suicide during farmer's satyagraha, according to leaders of the farmer's movement, had crossed 120. As of 5 March 2021, 248 farmers were confirmed dead.
The first farmer to die was Dhanna Singh (age 45) of Mansa district in Punjab. He was a leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda). He died, on the night of 26 November 2020, according to farmer leaders and media reports, while trying to negotiate his tractor past the Haryana Police road barricade of sand-laden trucks and stones. He was on his way to join the farmers who had been stopped by the Delhi Police on 26 November, on the border of Haryana, and Delhi.
26 November–20 December 2020
On 20 December, the death toll of farmers for the period 15 September to 20 December, according to media reports, was 41. Of these 38 were from Punjab (30 from Malwa, six from Doaba, and two from Majha), and three from Haryana. This total includes seven farmers who have died due to the cold and heart attacks at the Tikri border, and six at Singhu border, including Sant Baba Ram Singh, who committed suicide on 16 December. In the period 26 November – 18 December, according to Manoj Yadava, Director-General of Police, Haryana, 25 farmers died (heart attacks and cold 14, accident 10, suicide 1). This estimate however did not match with the estimated deaths in the 'struggle' by Dr. Darshan Pal, the farmer leader, according to whom the death toll of farmers in the 'struggle' during this period is 35.
21 December 2020–25 January 2021
Piara Singh, a 70-year-old poor farmer, and member of BKU (Dakaunda) died on 29 December, of pneumonia, in a Sangrur private hospital. Piara Singh, according to his elder brother, was part of the contingent participating in the farmer's-satyagraha since 26 November. Other farmers cremated on 29 December included Amarjeet Singh Rai in Jalalabad, and farm laborer Malkiat Kaur of Mazdoor Mukti Morcha in Mansa, Punjab. On 1 January 2021, Galtan Singh, 57, of Baghpat, UP, who was part of the protesters at the Ghazipur border, died after complaining of breathlessness. He became the first farmer fatality of 2021, and first reported farmer-death on the UP border. On 2 January, three farmers died: two at the Tikri Border and one at the Singhu border. In Tikri Jagbir Singh, 66, from Jind district, died of suspected heart attack; and Jashnpreet, 18, from Bathinda, died after he was evacuated to after evacuation to PGIMS, Rohtak. Shamsher Singh, 44, a Dalit farmer, who was in Singhu camp with his son, 13, died after he complained of chest pain, before reaching the hospital in Sonepat, Haryana.
26 January onwards
Navreet Singh, 25, resident of Rampur district, a student of Melbourne University on vacation in India, died while participating in the farmers’ Republic Day tractor rally on 26 January 2021. He was the lone fatality during the farmer's rally. According to Delhi Police First Information Report (FIR), and the autopsy, Navreet Singh died from head injuries sustained in a tractor accident. Avinash Chandra, Additional Director General of Police (DGP) Bareilly Zone, whose jurisdiction includes Rampur, told reporters that the postmortem report has confirmed that Navreet Singh was not shot, and instead apparently succumbed to antemortem injuries "received after his tractor toppled".
Navreet Singh's grandfather, Hardeep Singh Dibdiba, with whom he was staying, and other family members, have denied the police version of events. They allege that Navneet Singh died from gunshot wounds from firing by Delhi police.
Journalists who reported these allegations were charged with sedition by the Uttar Pradesh police. Those charged include Siddharth Varadarajan, Mrinal Pande, Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod Jose, Zafar Agha, Paresh Nath and Anant Nath, and Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP Varadarajan has called the police FIR "malicious prosecution".
A freelance journalist, Mandeep Punia, was arrested by Delhi Police on 30 January in view of his reports regarding the violence that took place at Singhu border the day before. He was granted bail on 2 February.
As of 9 January 2021, the death toll of farmers by suicide to protest the government's farm policy was five. Sant Baba Ram Singh, a Sikh priest, shot himself on 16 December 2020 at the Singhu border in protest against the farm laws. According to J.S. Randhawa, Senior Superintendent of Police, Sonepat, Haryana, Ram Singh, Left behind a 10-page note, dated 14 December, and a handwritten suicide letter, dated 16 December 2020, in which he wrote that he could not bear the pain of the farmers. At his funeral on 18 December, in Karnal, attended by farmer leaders, religious heads, and Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, the suicide letter was read out, which said, "Bullets fired from the guns kill only those whom they strike. The bullet of injustice, however, kills many with a single stroke… It is humiliating to suffer injustice."
On 18 December, according to Joginder Singh Jawanda, BKU (Ugrahan) leader, a heavily indebted 22-year-old Punjab farmer, killed himself with poison in his village after returning from Singhu, the protest site on the Delhi border.
On 27 December, Amarjit Singh Rai, a lawyer, committed suicide by taking poison. Rai before he took his life wrote in a note that he was "sacrificing his life" in support of farmer's protest, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "listen to the voice of the people".
2 January 2021, Kashmir Singh Ladi, a 75-year-old farmer from Bilaspur, Rampur district, Uttar Pradesh (UP), committed suicide. He was the fourth farmer suicide since the farm protesters were stopped on 26 November 2020, by UP Police on Delhi-UP Ghazipur Border, also called UP gate. Kashmir Singh who had been camping at the border since 28 November along with his son, and grandson, hanged himself in a toilet. Ladi, according to a government official, left a note in Punjabi, that says, "Till when shall we sit here in the cold? This government isn't listening at all. Hence, I give up my life so that some solution emerges."
On 9 January 2021, it was reported that Amrinder Singh, a 40-year-old Punjabi farmer, had killed himself by swallowing Aluminium phosphide tablets at the Singhu border. The man had been depressed at the state of the negotiations and had downed the tablets at a stage set up for protesters to speak, whereupon he was rushed to the hospital, but they were unable to resuscitate him.
Homage to the dead
On 20 December, the 25th day of the protest, to honour the memory of 41 farmers who have died since 15 September, called shahid by the farmer's leaders, national 'Shradhanjali Diwas' (Homage and Remembrance Day), was observed at Singhu, Tikri, UP Gate, and Chilla, farmer-camps with largest farmer's presence on the borders of Delhi, and in town and villages all-round the country. According to Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan) simultaneous events were organized in 98 villages in 15 Punjab districts, on 20 December, to honour the dead. These commemorations continued till 24 December.
On 4 January 2021, on the insistence of farmer's leaders, government ministers and officials of National Democratic Alliance Government participated in two-minute silence during the seventh round of talks between the government and farmers leaders held in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. On 11 February 2021, Rahul Gandhi, in the Loka Sabha proposed that the house observe two minutes of silence for farmers who had lost their lives during the protests. While the opposition observed the two-minute silence, some members, including those of the ruling BJP, noisily opposed the proposal to condole the dead farmers by not participating in the two-minute silence.
Response and reactions
Talks between centre and farmers
Ten rounds of talks have taken place between the Centre and farmers (represented by farm unions) until 20 January 2021. The meeting on 4 January was attended by three Union Ministers – agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, and commerce ministers Piyush Goyal and Som Parkash. The three Union Ministers declined the requests of scrapping the three new farm laws as it required more consultation with higher authorities. It is reported that the two sides have managed to reach an agreement on two issues which the farmers are concerned about, the rise in power tariffs and penalties for stubble burning.
The first round of talks was on 14 October 2020 in which the farmers walked out on finding that the agriculture secretary was present but not the minister.
On 4 December, the farmers protesting on the outskirts of Delhi against the center's new agricultural laws called a nationwide strike on Tuesday, 8 December, saying they will block all roads to the capital, amid a stand-off with the government.A day before the strike, the farmer's union announced that it would hold the strike between 11 am and 3 pm alone to avoid inconveniencing the public.
Incidents of fake news
Several politicians have circulated misinformation and fake news about the protests, and based on this, have made allegations of separatism, sedition, and 'anti-national' activities concerning the farmers' protests. In response to these, in December 2020, a group of protesting farmers announced that they would be establishing a unit to counter misinformation being spread about the protests. Notable incidents of fake news include:
- The general secretary of the BJP, Dushyant Kumar Gautam, alleged slogans of "Khalistan Zindabad" and "Pakistan Zindabad" being used during the protests. On 28 November, the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that "unwanted elements" like radical Khalistan sympathizers have been seen among the peacefully and democratically protesting farmers. These allegations were supported by the news outlet, Times Now. However, fact checks conducted by news outlet India Today as well as the non-profit fact-checking website, Alt News, both indicated that old images from a 2013 protest were being used to make false claims about Khalistani separatism during the farmers' protests. Protesters also have accused the national media of not telling the truth in relation to the laws. A protester told Scroll.in that "The Modi media is calling us Khalistanis [...] We have been sitting peacefully for two-month. That makes us terrorists?" Commentators have said that the Khalistan angle is being used to defame the protests. The Editors Guild of India asked the media not to label protesting farmers as "Khalistanis" or "anti-nationals" saying that "This goes against the tenets of responsible and ethical journalism. Such actions compromise the credibility of the media."
- In December 2020, Bharatiya Janata Party IT Cell's head, Amit Malviya, shared a misleading and fake video regarding the farmers' protests, claiming that there had been no police violence, in response to evidence of police violence shared by Congress politician Rahul Gandhi. Twitter flagged Malviya's video as 'manipulated media', placing a warning below the tweet to indicate that the content shared by Malviya was "deceptively altered or fabricated" with the intention of misleading people.
- A tweet by Canadian MP Jack Harris in support of the protest was falsely attributed to American Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. Harris released a statement clarifying that she had not made the statement.
- The BJP's Punjab unit shared an advertisement containing what they claimed was of a 'happy farmer' supporting the new laws. The image was actually of a protesting farmer, who had not consented to their use of his image. After he publicly objected and filed a legal notice against the Punjab BJP, the image was replaced with a cartoon drawing of a farmer instead.
- Priti Gandhi, the social media for the BJP's Women's Cell, shared an image of farmers allegedly protesting the change to the state of Kashmir's constitutional status in 2019. This image was not taken during the farmers' protest, but was from a protest held in 2019 by the Shiromani Akali Dal political party.
- Several BJP politicians, including Union Minister Giriraj Singh, shared a video of police officials removing the turban of a Sikh protester, and falsely claimed that the protester was not Sikh but was in fact Muslim, and further claimed that this was evidence of Muslims instigating protests. This video had previously been shared during the 2019 Citizenship Act protests and was debunked as fake then, despite which it was shared again during the 2020 farmers' protests to raise allegations against Muslim citizens.
- In January 2021, a user-generated National Geographic Magazine cover was circulated as a real cover depicting the farmers' protest as the cover story.
- In January 2021, several BJP leaders, including Jawahar Yadav, and Facebook fan pages of Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused protesting farmers of vandalizing signboards on highways, sharing images of such signboards. The images were later established as being taken from old news articles covering protests in 2017 about the placement of Punjabi language signs on these boards.
- Rajdeep Sardesai a prominent news and media personality who has been a vocal supporter of Farmers protest, spread a fake news story of a Farmer being killed by Delhi Police during the violence of the Tractor Parade on 26 January. India Today took the noted media personality off-air and deducted one month's pay for his brazen and unverified remarks.
- In January 2021, Zee News aired a video of decorated tractors, claiming that it was evidence of a forthcoming protest by farmers, and commenting, "Why use such tractors of terror in the farmer protests? Are these tractors a means of waging war with the law? Are these farmers’ tractors or terror tractors?". The video in question contained persons speaking in German and was confirmed as having been taken from a rally conducted in Germany in December 2020, in which tractors were decorated, and displayed to raise funds for children who were being treated for cancer.
Allegations of conspiracy
The Union Minister for Food, Railway and Consumer Affairs, Piyush Goyal has described the protesting farmers as "Leftist and Maoist" and being "hijacked" by unknown conspirators. Former Rajya Sabha MP and vice-president of BJP in Himachal Pradesh, Kripal Parmar stated, "The protest is driven by the vested interest of few anti-national elements." Union Minister and BJP politician Raosaheb Danve have alleged an international conspiracy, claiming that China and Pakistan are behind the ongoing protests by farmers. BJP MLA Surendra Singh said, "....this is a sponsored agitation by anti-national forces and has foreign funding." BJP Uttarakhand chief Dushyant Kumar Gautam stated that the protests had been 'hijacked by "terrorists" and "anti-national" forces. Several BJP leaders have blamed what they have called the 'Tukde Tukde Gang' – a pejorative term used by the BJP and its supporters, against anyone who disagrees with its politics, which implies that the person supports secession – as instigating the protests, and linked them to previous protests about India's citizenship laws. Delhi BJP MP Manoj Tiwari has accused such unnamed conspirators of instigating the protests, as has Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. In response to the BJP's claims, Sukhbir Singh Badal, former Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, claimed that the BJP was the real 'Tukde Tukde Gang' and trying to divide Punjab. BJP General Secretary Manoj Tiwari has also described the protesting farmers as "urban Naxals". Rajasthan BJP leader Madan Dilawar has accused protesting farmers of "conspiring" to spread avian influenza in India after reports of some cases of avian flu were made in January. Dilawar claimed that protesting farmers were spreading avian influenza by "eating chicken biryani and cashew nuts/almonds" although he did not clarify how these foods and avian influenza are connected.
Opposition to the claims of conspiracy has been voiced from within the BJP and outside it. BJP leader Surjit Singh Jyani, who was part of a committee that negotiated with several farmers unions, vocally opposed the claims, stating, "This type of language should be avoided. We know many farmers groups are Left-leaning but branding them tukde tukde gang and anti-national will not end the deadlock." Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena leader, Uddhav Thackeray has voiced opposition to the labeling of protesters as "anti-national", pointing to some confusion among BJP leaders about the source of the allegations of conspiracy. He stated, "BJP leaders should decide who farmers are – are they Leftist, Pakistani, or they have come from China. The conspiracy claims have also been opposed by Rajasthan Chief Minister and Congress politician, Ashok Gehlot, who urged the government to come to an "amicable solution" with protesting farmers "...instead of blaming gangs, anti-national elements for these protests."
- Australia: Victoria Member of Parliament Rob Mitchell and Russell Wortley were among the Labour leaders who spoke in support of the farmers' protests, with Mitchell addressing the Victorian parliament on the subject after several protests were held in Australia by citizens.
- Canada: Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada expressed concerns about the supposed mishandling of protests by the Indian government. He was the very first politician on international grounds to speak for the farmers. Trudeau stated that "Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protestors" and expressed support for "the process of dialogue." In response, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs summoned the Canadian High Commissioner to India, Nadir Patel, and issued a démarche, stating that Trudeau's comments were "an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs". Trudeau reiterated his statement despite the Indian Government's warning that his comments threatened diplomatic relations between the two countries. On Saturday, 5 December, hundreds of supporters protested in downtown Toronto and Vancouver, gathering in front of the Indian consulate in both cities to show their support. Organized by members of the Sikh community, the demonstrators stood in solidarity with the farmers and their right to peacefully protest.
- Italy: Indian Ambassador to Italy Neena Malhotra visited a gurudwara in Rome in December as part of an outreach effort by the Indian government to Sikhs amid the farm protests. Malhotra received backlash on social media when the Embassy claimed she had been well received during the visit. However, Malhotra was heckled by members of the gurudwara management committee while she spoke in favor of the new farm laws.
- New Zealand: In early December 2020, 1,500 Indian New Zealanders protested in Auckland's Aotea Square against the new agricultural laws.
- Pakistan: Federal minister Fawad Chaudhry from Punjab, Pakistan called out the Indian government's behavior with Punjabi farmers and termed it "shameful". He further stated that Modi's policies were "threats for regional peace".
- United Kingdom: Several Labour MPs in the United Kingdom expressed support for the protests and raised concerns about the government response to protesters, including Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Preet Kaur Gill, Claudia Webbe and John McDonnell. A few British MPs and cricketer Monty Panesar also tweeted in support of farmers. In December 2020, a group of 36 British MPs from the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party asked the British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to raise their concerns with the Indian government. The British prime minister Boris Johnson, after being confronted with the issue, confused it with the India–Pakistan conflict, drawing criticism domestically and in India. Nadia Whittome, a British politician, released a statement in support of the farmers.
- United States: Several Indian-American protests were held in support of the farmers, with rallies being held outside Indian consulates in San Francisco, Chicago, Indianapolis, New York City, Houston, Michigan, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. A rally of over a thousand Indian Americans was also held in Detroit, and a car rally was held in Fort Wayne. Several American Congressmen from both the Republican and Democratic parties voiced support for these protests, including Josh Harder, TJ Cox, Doug LaMalfa, and Andy Levin. In December 2020, seven Congresspersons wrote to the Secretary of State, asking him raise the issue of the farmers' protests with India. The Congressional Research Service published a report on the farmer protests on 1 March. Bob Menendez and Chuck Schumer wrote a letter to the Biden government in relation to the protests, urging it to discuss the farmer issue with the Indian government. On 7 February, Sikh farmers in California's Central Valley funded a 30-second ad which ran during Super Bowl LV in support of the protesters in India. In February 2021, Trevor Noah ran a eight minute segment on the farm protests.
- United Nations: António Guterres, secretary-general, called on the Indian government to allow the protests, affirming the right to voice opposition to the government, stating "...People have a right to demonstrate peacefully and authorities need to let them do so."
- International Monetary Fund: Gerry Rice, Director of Communications IMF, said that the agriculture reforms have the potential to represent a significant step forward for agricultural reforms in India. He contended that the bills will eventually reduce middlemen and improve efficiency. He also remarked that a "social safety net" should be there to protect "those who might be adversely impacted during the transition to this new system".
- Human Rights Watch: Human Rights Watch issued a statement on 2 February calling on the Indian government to drop "baseless criminal charges" against journalists covering the protests.
Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati has been vocal in his support for the bills and contends that the bills are bold steps in the right direction. The Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund, Gita Gopinath, said the "farm bills and labour bills are very important steps in the right direction. They have the potential to have more labour market flexibility, providing greater social security to workers and more formalisation of the labour market. In the case of agriculture, having a much more integrated market, creating competition, having farmers getting a greater share of the price that finally the retail price that's paid. So that helps with rural incomes". She also stressed that the implementation of it must be right. Milind Sathye, a professor at the University of Canberra asserts that the new laws will "enable farmers to act together and join hands with the private sector and that the previous system had led to growing farm debt and farmers suicides, among other problems". Rajshri Jayaraman, Associate Economics Professor at the University of Toronto, states that "the bills are confusing and to pass legislation like this affects the largest single sector of the economy and the poorest people in an already poor country during a pandemic."
On 1 January 2021, 866 academicians from across India came out in support of the three farm laws. This includes seven vice-chancellors and academicians from Delhi University, JNU, Rajasthan University, Gujarat University, Allahabad University and Banaras Hindu University among others. Kaushik Basu, the former chief economist at the World Bank, supports the cause of the peasants, against the position of Arvind Panagariya, former Chief Economist at the Asian Development Bank. Hansong Li, a Chinese scholar at Harvard University, argues that although India's farm reforms bear resemblance to China's own market-oriented agricultural reforms, India lacks the risk-mitigation mechanisms in the Chinese context and that the overall crisis has shown a lack of public trust and cohesion in India.
Repudiation of awards
Former Chief Minister of Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal returned his Padma Vibhushan award to the President of India on 3 December 2020, in his support of the farmers' protest. On 4 December 2020, environmentalist Baba Sewa Singh returned his Padma Shri Award. Punjabi folk singer Harbhajan Mann refused to accept the Shiromani Punjabi Award by the Punjab Languages Department of the Government of Punjab, India in support of the protests.
Rajya Sabha MP and SAD(D) president Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa also announced that he would return his Padma award due to his personal support of the protests.
Videos and images of the protests have helped bring awareness to the farmers' cause and many have gone viral including one of a police officer with a baton raised in hand towards an elderly Sikh man, Sukhdev Singh. Fake news also circulated such as a morphed video claiming that no violence in this incident had occurred was shared by BJP leader Amit Malviya; however, this video was flagged as being misinformation by Twitter, and the video was criticized publicly as being propaganda. Alternately, protestors wielding swords circulated on the media following the Republic Day protests; over 300 policemen were injured on the 26th.
Hashtags are also being used by youth to show their support and ensure that their hashtags like #FarmersProtest, #standwithfarmerschallenge, #SpeakUpForFarmers, #iamwithfarmers, #kisanektazindabaad, #tractor2twitter, #isupportfarmersare trending to keep the subject relevant on the various social media platforms. Another purpose for the youth posting on social media is to counter the negative posts. These posts also benefit the unions and help them to reach the public about their issues and concerns.
On 20 December 2020, Facebook removed a page named Kisan Ekta Morcha, an official news source from farmers' protest. It was restored after public outrage. Since then both Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram have been accused of removing and shadow banning content that spoke either in favour of farmers or against the BJP-led government, an accusation it has faced in past too.
In early February a "social media war" erupted after a tweet by Rihanna saying "why aren't we talking about this?!" with the hashtag #FarmersProtest. Numerous celebrities and international figures came out in support such as Greta Thunberg, Lilly Singh, Jamie Margolin, Elizabeth Wathuti, and Claudia Webbe. Following this the Indian Ministry of External affairs came out with a clarification statement with the hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda. Indian celebrities such as Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Suniel Shetty, Karan Johar, Ekta Kapoor, Lata Mangeshkar, Kailash Kher, Ravi Shastri, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, P. T. Usha, Manika Batra, Saina Nehwal, Geeta Phogat also posted tweets with the hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda. The Ministry of External Affairs statement characterised a "small section of farmers" as protesting against the legislation and highlighted the Prime Minister's offer to keep the laws on hold.
In February 2021, Twitter removed over 500 accounts that criticized Narendra Modi's government for its conduct during Indian farmers' protests. Ravi Shankar Prasad, the justice and technology minister, told India's parliament: "I politely remind the companies, whether it is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp or anyone, they are free to work in India, do business, but they need to respect the Indian Constitution."
On 3 February, Greta Thunberg uploaded a document on Twitter that allegedly guided protestors about protests and on how to mobilise people against India and target Indian interests/embassies abroad. It contained actions taken up to 26 January 2021, future actions to undertake, hashtags that trended and would trend, celebrities who would be sympathetic to these protests and solidarity videos, etc. She soon deleted the tweet saying that the document was "outdated", and uploaded another toolkit to support protests, sparking a further row.
The Times of India reported that an initial probe by the Modi government, into the source of the toolkit that Thunberg posted, suggested that it was put together by a Canadian pro-Khalistan organization based in Vancouver and that the toolkit had a plan to carry forward the "malign Indian campaign", even if the government repealed the laws. According to one official, "This showed how sinister the entire campaign was". Bangalore Fridays for Future activist Disha Ravi was picked up by police in questioning related to the toolkit.
Supreme Court of India involvement
The Supreme Court of India has received numerous petitions seeking direction to remove protesting farmers from blocking access routes to the capital. The Supreme Court has also conveyed to the central government that it intends to set up a body for taking forward the negotiations. On 17 December, the Supreme Court acknowledged the right to peaceful protest but added, "you (farmers) have a purpose also and that purpose is served only if you talk, discuss and reach a conclusion". The central government opposed the court's recommendation of putting on hold the implementation of the farm laws.
Agitating farmer unions have decided to consult Prashant Bhushan, Dushyant Dave, HS Phoolka, and Colin Gonsalves as far as the Supreme Court proceedings go.
A plea submitted by several students of Panjab University on 2 December 2020 was registered by the Supreme Court as a public petition on 4 January 2021. The plea was in the form of a letter that called out police excesses, illegal detentions of protesters, "misrepresentation, polarization and sensationalisation" by media channels and approached the matter on humanitarian grounds. A student who drafted the petition informed The Wire that "over the course of over 100 days of the farmers' protest, this is the first petition filed in favour of the protest".
Farmers have said they will not listen to the courts if told to back off or even if the laws are stayed. Farmer union leaders have also raised the issue of the government "dodging dialogue" since the "SC has said earlier that it will not intervene". Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala made a statement in this regard, "Why does the government want the SC to solve all contentious issues, from the CAA and the National Register of Citizens to farm laws?"
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India Justice SA Bobde, an absolutely corrupt judge, along with justices V. Ramasubramanian and A. S. Bopanna have heard the matters stemming from the farm laws.
On 11 January 2021, the Chief Justice of India, a corrupt politician, said during hearings, "We are not experts on agriculture and economics. Tell us whether you (the government) will put these laws on hold or else we will do it. What's the prestige issue here? [...] We don't know if you are part of the solution or part of the problem [...] We have an apprehension that someday maybe, there might be a breach of peace. Each one of us will be responsible if anything goes wrong [...] If the vast majority says that laws are good, let them say it to (a) committee." The Court also stated to the government that they were "...extremely disappointed at the way the government is handling all this (farmers protests). We don't know what consultative process you followed before the laws. Many states are up in rebellion" The Court also rejected a claim by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the "vast majority" of farmers supported the laws, stating that they had not received any submissions from any person that the laws were beneficial.
The protests are still on and are possibly the largest labour protest ever to have happened in the history of the world. Let's show them international solidarity and share their songs and stories as much as possible; it is, after all, a matter of praxis for any conscientious human being!
<much of the information was taken from Wikipedia>