Amandeep Sandhu

THE PROTESTORS on the #DilliChalo march are motivated by Fundamental Rights as enshrined in the Constitution, Article 19. Namely, freedom of speech and expression; freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms; freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India. They sought to reach the capital of the nation.

Yet, [in the] last 48 hours they were massively prevented. The Haryana police subjected the marching farmers, labourers, small traders, men, women, children, [and] the elderly to road barriers akin to what the defence forces build on the international border that runs through Panjab: iron barricades, barbed wire, big boulders, deep trenches, sand and mud trucks, ship containers, water cannons and tear gas (thankfully, not pellets or real bullets).

Then, to our surprise, after the protestors dismantled the barriers in Haryana as they advanced and reached Delhi, the Union government rather easily allowed the protestors from Panjab, Haryana, [and] some from western Uttar Pradesh to enter Delhi.

My surprise was that through their defiance, ingenuity, and compassion – many instances where protestors provided food and drinking water to policemen – the protestors regained something that has gone missing in our nation for the last few years: the rights of the citizens, in this case to enter the Capital.

We know, in the last few years we are all plagued by hesitation to take on the reckless and lumpen right-wing. The rise of Hindutva is a cloud of fear that has enveloped the majority of us.

We watch our words, our actions, we live in perpetual dread of untoward incidents in real life or on social media. Unless, of course, we are either part of or support the right-wing.

I believe this #DilliChalo march has shattered the miasma of Hindutva‘s power and arrogance.

This miasma was first punctured by the Nanis and Dadis of Shaheen Bagh and its hundreds of models across Indian cities and towns last winter [in the] anti-CAA/NPR/NCR [struggle].

While it is still too early in the struggle against Farm Laws, yet since a stage is crossed, it is a good time to take stock of what we learnt:

Control the Narrative

In spite of Godi media’s best attempts, [and] Bhakt IT cell’s efforts, the narrative remained fixed on the protestors and their struggle in reaching the Capital of the nation.

Overcoming Fear

Quite simply, finally the protestors stopped caring about the police barriers and made child’s play of dismantling them. They vastly outnumbered the police. Their ingenuity and general hardiness both came in handy.

Sense of Purpose

The protesters – men and women – overcame their fear because they have left homes with the understanding that this is a long haul. They know before COVID19, it is the draconian laws that are the noose around their necks. It is a fight for their very survival. They are prepared for it.

Participation of Youth

It played a key role in many decisions taken by protestors spontaneously. Sometimes, even at the cost of those who have been leaders of farmer and labour unions for many decades.

Leaderless March and Protest

That is the beauty of this protest and makes it so difficult for ‘powers that be’ to co-opt the leaders, compromise the march and protest.

Unity between Panjab and Haryana

For various reasons in the past the two states have not got along. Yet, this time the protestors united, stayed with each other through thick and thin and all succeeded together.

Civil Society Political Consciousness

In the last few weeks, through organising and attending rallies, preparing for the march and protest, the message about the true impact of the draconian laws spread like wild-fire in Panjab and Haryana raising the civil society’s political consciousness by leaps and bounds.

Overall, we learn that Hindutva works through its lapdogs. In this case Haryana government. Hindutva bares its fangs, but its bite is quite useless. The instruments it uses – in this case, the police – comes from the same stock as its current protesters. We must not fear its fangs, and must take it head on. Hindutva crumbles when strongly opposed.

Yet, we must know, coward Hindutva is devious. It does massive lip-service but keeps inventing ways to trap its opposers. That is why, while technically the protesters have been allowed into Delhi, they have actually been allowed to assemble at Nirankari Grounds in Burari – a God forsaken ground in North Delhi. The Nirankari Ground is 15 kms from Ram Lila Grounds where the protestors of each state individually asked permission to assemble which was denied.

As of now, the farmers have collected 21 and 27 kms from the Nirankari Ground at Singhu and Tikri and are refusing to move to the space allotted to them. Fresh reports tell us about the protesters being tear gassed at these places early morning today.

The struggle is on.

After the Nanis and Dadis of Shaheen Bagh, the Anti-Farm Law protestors are showing us how to tackle Hindutva. Notice, in both cases it is the hardy veterans supported by youth – on the ground – who are showing us how Delhi Chalo paves the way against Hindutva.

These are the folks who have guaranteed the nation its food security over the last half century or more. If they fed India, they know how to tackle Hindutva. Social media has a function in controlling the narrative, but Hindutva has to be tackled on the ground not through paroxysms of arm-chairs activists. For now, friends, the need is for Dilli to come out of its homes and support the protesters.

Stay aware. Stay resolute. Stay united.

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