Happy Republic Day readers. Even as I write this post, farmers across the country have stepped out to protest, and those in the national capital have been met with tear gas and violence, courtesy the police.
As reported by NDTV, “...police used tear gas on groups of farmers and resorted to lathi-charge as protestors broke past barricades with tractors at different border points and did not take the pre-decided routes for their march in the national capital.”
Pre-planned routes and an allotted time had been given to the farmers who were to cross into the national capital to register their protests against the recently passed agriculture bills. Firstly, protests aren’t meant to be convenient, or happen with the permission or the blessing of the state within an ‘allotted time’. Secondly, the absurdity of having to watch the Republic Day parade when a mass of citizens, the backbone of our country, are being violently attacked a few roads away was too much.
Violence at ITO. Multiple rounds of tear gas. Protesters beaten by cops, farmer vehicles smashed. Farmers also damage police vehicles. Situation tense. pic.twitter.com/C3I04V1Rip
— Kainat Sarfaraz. (@kainisms) January 26, 2021
Of course, stories from the ground of police having instigated violence are swept away, and the mainstream media (looking at you ANI) yell ‘unprecedented’ ‘vandalism’ at the screens. Not very surprising considering the very channels and their primetime anchors spent the last few months calling the protests the work of terrorists and anti-nationals.
Cue outrage over buses being ‘vandalised’, while our democracy takes hits-after-hits.
Why is the State and its supporters so afraid of dissent? I fail to understand why people are more obsessed with bad-mouthing protests than stopping to understand why protests and discontent exist in the first place. If only we could skip leaving comments calling protestors ‘Khalistani’ and ‘terrorists’ and read about why anger has been brewing for so long.
Visuals of lathicharge at ITO, Delhi. pic.twitter.com/cdJoGnoQdY
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) January 26, 2021
If only we stopped equating dissent by a mass of people who are dissatisfied with our ‘rulers’ to the powers of a militarised state. If only we cared more for the lives and rights of the people who put food on our plates instead of a government and corporates. If only.
Once a supposed beacon of civil rights and the freedom struggle, protests (except those by people outfitted with saffron flags) are demonised, downplayed, and termed ‘inconveniences’.
It says a lot about us when we degrade and when the government tunes out farmers fighting for basic rights on the day, 72 years ago, the country signed the Constitution that calls us a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic.