The entire discussion has been moved away to Khalistan, diverting the attention of the people from the real issues of farm laws, thanks to pliant media.
Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—When nationwide movement was launched in December 2019 against the unconstitutional Citizenship (Amendment) Act CAA and proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), the protesters were dubbed as anti-national and a large number of those having led anti-CAA movement have now been booked for conspiring the northeast Delhi riots. Now the effort is being made to divert the debate of farm agitation to discussion on Khalistan to discredit India’s biggest farm movement and farmers from Punjab, who are among the most vocal group to protest the three farm laws brought by the BJP government at the Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi are being dubbed “Khalistanis”.
Several hasthags #Khalistani, Khalistan and #Shaheenbagh2 were launched on microblogging site-Twitter- on Saturday with thousands of twitter users scornfully calling the turban-wearing Sikh farmers as “Khalistanis”, “terrorists” and Muslim farmers with skull-cap and having beards being called Pakistanis. Calling those opposing the BJP government’s policies and ideologies of certain right group parties as “anti-national” and “terrorists”, seems to have become new normal since 2014 in India.
And this was also subtly being propagated by a section of media that launched a campaign of vilification against anti-CAA protesters because the protesters had challenged the might of the Modi government. And the protesters were mostly Muslim women all across the country, supported by liberal Hindus from different walks of life. None of the political parties including BJP and the Congress, had ever imagined that Muslims, and that too, their womenfolk ,would be able to launch a nationwide movement against the BJP government that was formed with absolute majority. The anti-CAA protest was, however, withdrawn in March 2020, in view of the Covid-19.
Likewise, the farmers from Punjab, who are mostly Sikhs with a distinct identity, are on the forefront of the movement against the three farm laws passed by the Modi government which are said to be benefitting the corporates at the cost of farmers and consumers. The media that launched a hostile campaign against the Muslims during anti-CAA agitation and dubbed the Muslims as carriers of coronavirus resulting into further hostility and attack on Muslims in different parts of the country, has also cleverly launched a propaganda that there was threat of Khalistani terrorists having infiltrated the farmers’ protest movement with a view to discredit the Punjab farmers’ movement against the controversial farm laws and distance the non-Sikh farmers from them though anti-farm movement is backed by over 200 farmers’ organisations from all over the country and almost all of them are being led by the Hindus. But certain people with their narrow agenda are trying to divide the farm community on religious lines to ensure that the anti-farm movement that has brought the Modi government to its knees, dies. This is very dangerous path certain political parties and their leaders have taken to grab the political power and now to perpetuate it because they have failed to perform and fulfill the promises they had made with the people. These parties and their leaders know that they can achieve their hidden agenda of privatizing all government departments and transfer government assets to their favourite corporates only by diverting the peoples’ mind by creating religious tension. First, they chose Muslims as an enemy and now, they are targeting Sikhs.
One of the leading TV channels-Zee News- in its prime time telecast has claimed that Khalistani elements had creeped into the farm agitation and were threatening that if they could kill Indira Gandhi, they could do the same with Narendra Modi if their demands were not met. He has also run video quoting some people looking like a Sikh from their appearance as they were wearing turbans and sporting beards. He also showed a video-which appeared to be an old one-raising Khalistani slogans with photos of Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, who had demanded Khalistan outside the Indian Union. Both the videos need to be investigated by security and intelligence agencies to find out their veracity. A social media user, commenting on Zee News telecast, said, “Such a dangerous, dangerous game being played by these news channels by claims that protesting farmers are Khalistani elements. Such baseless and outrageous claims will only serve to deepen divides in the country”.
#Shaheen Bagh tries to liken farmers’ agitation with Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA movement. Many tweets posted on it say that farmers’ agitation should not be allowed to become #ShaheenBagh2 as they feel that “protests include separatists in the guise of kisans”. They say that farmers protest should not be allowed to become another #Shaheen Bagh under any circumstances. Shaheen Bagh’s Dadi, whose name found mention among Time magazine’s list of 100 is being dubbed as “Jihadi Dadi” to defame her.
So, the entire discussion has been moved away to Khalistan, diverting the attention of the people from the real issues of farm laws, thanks to pliant media.