Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan? Protesting Farmers Water-Cannoned in Delhi Winter

Social Commentary

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan? Protesting Farmers Water-Cannoned in Delhi Winter

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Protests against the Centre’s controversial farm laws have been raging for months. In a heartless decision by the administration, water cannons were unleashed on protesting farmers from Haryana, marching towards Delhi.

On a cold winter evening, hundreds of farmers faced water cannons at Kurukshetra after crossing the barricades at Ambala. Is this how the government should treat its farmers?

The Delhi Police had said on Tuesday that it has rejected requests for any gathering in the national capital. It said legal action would be taken against the protesting farmers if they come to the city for any gathering amid the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. The ‘Delhi Chalo’ march is scheduled to be held on November 26 and 27.

Massive security deployments have been made at border areas, especially in Haryana. Farmers pushed barricades off the bridge into the river as security forces continued to use tear gas and water cannons on protesting farmers.

The attempt to stop farmers from peacefully protesting has come under severe criticism. “By stopping Punjabi farmers from peacefully exercising democratic rights, Centre is repeating 1982 when the Akalis were stopped from entering Delhi to protest. Painful history must not be forced to repeat itself,” said Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also echoed the sentiment. “All the three farming bills of the central government are anti-farmer. Instead of withdrawing this bill, farmers are being prevented from holding peaceful demonstrations, water canons are being run on them. This crime is absolutely wrong on farmers. Peaceful protest is their constitutional right,” he wrote on Twitter.

The move to water cannon farmers on a chilly winter evening drew sharp responses from all quarters.

The “Delhi Chalo” march has the support of over 300 farmers organisations from states including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. The call for protests has been made by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh and various factions of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.

Protesting is a constitutional right and the government should resist use of force against peaceful farmers. Issues must be discussed with stakeholders in democracy to arrive at solutions. Bullying through force, especially when it concerns our annadattas, reflects poorly on our state.