All the farmers in this group, from the Jat community of Haryana, said they voted for the prime minister in the last general election.
In the eyes of the farmers sitting on the dharna against new agricultural laws in the bitter cold of Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an “arrogant monarch” – like an Aurangzeb or a Ravan.
“Ghamand toh Ravan ka nahi chala, toh Modi kya cheez hai (Even Ravan was defeated out of arrogance; what was Modi before him)? said an aging farmer, among a group of about a dozen sharing a hookah at the Singhu border.
Farmers have been sitting at Delhi’s borders since the last week of November to pressure the Modi government to repeal three farm laws it has submitted to parliament, which protesters say will benefit big businesses and reduce them to workers on their own land. But the government has not budged, even after the deaths of more than 70 protesters.
“Bharosa karke vote diya tha. Iska matlab jo chahe woh kanoon laane ke liye thhode diya tha»Says another farmer in the group. “We trusted him and gave him our vote, but not to enact the law he wants.”
The duty of a good leader is to talk to people and do what is right for them and not to impose a law that would help businesses, he added.
All the farmers in this group, from the Jat community of Haryana, said they voted for Modi in the last general election.
The BJP cited its electoral victories to say that it has a mandate to pass the laws. The party and the Prime Minister say the laws are good for farmers.
“Yeh kanoon kisan ka nahi, Adani, Ambani ka bhala karega. Humko Modi ji ka ‘achchha kanoon’ nahi chahiye. (These laws will benefit Adani and Ambani, not farmers. We don’t want “good laws” from Modiji), ”said a third farmer in the group.
If Ravan is the one the Prime Minister reminded the Haryana group of, it is the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb of whom the Punjab farmers have spoken. They recalled how the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, had fought the persecution of Aurangzeb.
Modi had visited Gurdwara Rakab Ganj last month, built in Delhi on the site where Guru Tegh Bahadur’s remains were set on fire after being beheaded on Aurangzeb’s orders.
The Prime Minister was trying to strike a chord with Sikh farmers, who are at the forefront of the protest which now includes peasants from across the country. Modi explained how the sacrifice of the Sikh gurus had helped protect the country’s “civilization and culture” from “tyrants” and “executioners” – a reference to the Mughals, especially Aurangzeb.
Unimpressed, the protesting farmers say that by taking over the Modi government, they are following in their gurus’ footsteps to fight for a just cause.
“The tyrants wanted the Sahibzades to renounce their faith,” Modi said, referring to the young grandsons of Guru Tegh Bahadur imprisoned in a wall by the Mughals for refusing to convert.
At the Singhu border, Modi is seen as the persecutor who now seeks to slander the Sikh protesters by calling them “Khalistanis” and subjugate them.
Babek Singh, chairman of Nanak Shahi Sansar welfare organization, was heard telling the crowd from a platform that after targeting Muslims and Christians, the Modi government is now attacking Sikhs.
“Hum pehle nahi dabe, ab bhi nahi dabenge (We couldn’t be subjugated before, we won’t be now), ”he said, triggering cheers.
When asked later why he felt the Sikhs were victimized, Babek called the slander of the BJP leaders of the agitators “khalistani” and “anti-national”.
“You call us Khalistani and anti-national … The Sikh community has sacrificed so much for this land and you question their patriotism?” he said, his voice shaking with anger.
“What is it other than an effort to suppress us?” This turban is a symbol of our faith in this land. We shed our blood to protect it … “
A young Sikh, Paramjit, who was waiting to donate blood outside a temporary hospital set up by unitedsikhs.org, also felt that the community was targeted. “Sikhs can never be subjugated,” he said, recalling Indira Gandhi’s military operation inside the Golden Temple and comparing Modi to her.
Paramjit accused Modi of trying to divide people on the basis of religion. Pointing out the queue of potential blood donors, he said, “But this blood will be donated to hospitals in Delhi and will help save lives regardless of religion.
About 20 meters from the hospital, on a highway teeming with demonstrators, was a food stand set up by the Punjab Muslim Federation, Malerkotla.
A small sign at the stall read: “Aapki aankhon by parda hai godi media, ye biryani nahi zarda hai (Your eyes are one-eyed, lapdog media. This is not biryani but zarda).”
Tariq Manzoor, who ran the booth, said the sign was to be installed after some media claimed that biryani – a meat and rice dish seen by some as a symbol of Muslim cuisine – was served during the protests. He said the stand actually served a vegetarian sweet rice dish called zarda.
“Our organization regularly sets up langars (free public kitchens). We respect the sanctity of a langar and never serve non-vegetarian food, ”Manzoor said.
He said that after tarring Muslims the pro-government media wanted to smear the Sikhs.
“The way they tarnished Shaheen Bagh (the female-led protest against the new citizenship law), they’re doing it here now,” he said.
But Manzoor added: “Calling Muslims ‘traitors’ is easy but it cannot be done with Sikhs.
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