Farmer protests, contours of anarchy and an NCR under siege



Ramification | Farmer protests, contours of anarchy and an NCR under siege

The idea of the protests being hijacked once again is not far-fetched considering images encouraging a secessionist agenda have begun to appear

Read More
Rami Niranjan Desai February 16, 2024 13:37:59 IST
Ramification | Farmer protests, contours of anarchy and an NCR under siege

Police personnel guard near Ghazipur border in view of farmers’ ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest, in New Delhi on 15 February, 2024. PTI

As Delhi turns into a fortress with the farmer protests, one is reminded of the anarchy that disguised itself as dissent in 2021. Khalistani infiltration and banned organisations like ‘Sikhs For Justice’ were found to be involved in the 2021 farmer agitation. Khalistani slogans were raised and the protestors held up posters of Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

At the time, farmer organisations also included in their charter of demands the release of certain prisoners, which included Sharjeel Imam and Umar Khalid. They were at the forefront of organising protests against CAA and NRC and had been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Imam had gone to the extent of exhorting people to cut off Assam permanently from the rest of the country. Their charter had also called for the release of terrorist sympathisers such as Varvara Rao and Sudha Bhardwaj amongst many others. The farmer protests that ended with the government repealing the farm laws, gave the impression that the protests were engineered by vested secessionist groups with an agenda of taking the Modi-led government on while reviving Khalistani sentiments.

Today, as we step into 2024, the farmers are once again trying to make their way to Delhi via Haryana armed with a new set of demands. These demands, some seemingly innocuous and some inconceivable, include pensions for farmers and India’s withdrawal from the WTO amongst others. Ironically, some of these protesting farmers have been seen arriving at the protest sites in ultra-luxury vehicles.



Pannun aide Khalistani separatist Inderjit Singh Gosal’s Canada home hit by gunfire, investigation on


West’s glaring double standards on terrorism

So far, it has been a wait-and-watch game for most to see if these protests have been hijacked, like in 2021, by the intersectionality of separatist and political grievances. But the signs of a resurrection are becoming difficult to ignore.

Farmer organisations started their journey on 12 February, arriving in modified tractors and SUVs with trucks full of food grains and other necessary goods sufficient for the next six months, at the least. This is a glaring indicator for even the layman to realise that they are here for the long run. Irrespective of the pressures that security forces across the country will have to bear, especially with the 2024 general elections around the corner or the inconvenience caused to residents of the National Capital Region (NCR), the farmers want what they have demanded, at any cost. But critically, without plans to ensure that secessionist, anti-national and politically vested interests don’t hijack their protests this time round, no rationale can legitimise the genuineness of the new protests. There is no assurance that these protests will not deteriorate into anarchy.

Additionally, the preparation of the security forces, with a 12-layer defence barricading at the Shambhu border in the state of Haryana has been suggestive of how the centre is ready to push back if need be. The RCC boulders, concrete slabs and trenches fixed on National Highway 44 were meant to restrain the farmers from entering, instead, the farmers destroyed the first two layers, throwing the slabs in the river. The farmers were well prepared with wet jute bags to counter the tear gas shells dropped through drones with some visuals showing farmers with gas masks on.

It must be pointed out that blocking highways and destruction of public property is a criminal offence under Section 431 of the, which deals with mischief by injury to the public road, bridge, river or channel making it impassable or less safe for travel. In addition, Section 427 of the IPC also deals with mischief causing damage which carries a grand fine of fifty rupees and upwards.

However, it seems that the residents of NCR have submitted to the will of the protestors even though they are ultimately at the receiving end of these protests. They are quietly dealing with check posts doubling their daily travel time, anxieties of small businesses which are likely to suffer not to mention the fear that the NCR will have to face another riot-like situation. In addition to residents of the NCR, news channels, media reporting and debaters too seem to have taken the illegal aspects of the protests in their stride almost like it is the norm. They have vociferously argued for or against the new farmer demands depending on their political affiliation but have not discussed the sheer criminality of the actions and reactions of the protestors. Actions which are against the rule of law and risk becoming platforms for anti-India elements.

The idea of the protests being hijacked once again is not far-fetched considering images encouraging a secessionist agenda have begun to appear. Recently an AI-generated image showed the Nishan Sahib on the Red Fort, in a stark reminder of what took place on the Red Fort in 2021. An act that put shivers through the spine of India. In another incident, a Hindi YouTube channel called Satya Khabar put up a video of Khalistanis saying “we are standing at the Sindhu border where you have put barricades. We suggest that you put a permanent border and we will then open a border with Pakistan.” Another Khalistani then clearly says that we want an Azad Punjab, Khalistani Punjab. Designated terrorist US-based Gurpatwant Singh Pannun also has released a video urging pro-Khalistani elements to infiltrate the protests.

Politically too, Rahul Gandhi has supported the protests. Leaders of the 2021 agitation like Ramandeep Singh Mann have again resurfaced. His proximity to Congress leaders is well known. Kejriwal-led AAP is at both ends of the protests, in Delhi and Haryana refusing once again to allow Delhi Police to use nearly nine stadiums as temporary jails. He did nothing to stop the farmers in Punjab itself, allowing them to reach Haryana. But, nothing spells the political agenda of these protests clearer than farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal’s statement. During the protests he pointed out that “The popularity of Modi is at its peak, his graph has gone up because of Ram Mandir. We have less time (2024 LS elections). We have to bring the graph of Modi down.”

Unfortunately, irrespective of the actions of secessionist leaders or political leaders, the truth is that India, and especially the NCR has effectively become political fodder for the opposition. NCR has borne the brunt of this new-age politics with riots and protests culminating in Delhi, public property and taxpayer-funded infrastructure being torn down inconveniencing residents for months on end. Yet, dialogues are still circling the veracity of farmer demands and not the incontestable fact that this dissent can spiral into anarchy, just the way it did in 2021. Residents of NCR then must brace themselves for the future and ask, will every demand that is rejected by the Centre be turned into an exercise to hold the NCR to ransom?

The writer is an anthropologist, author and scholar specialising in the northeast region of India. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.

Read all the Latest NewsTrending NewsCricket NewsBollywood News,
India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Join our Whatsapp channel to get the latest global news updates



  • Munich Security Conference: EAM Jaishankar meets his UK and Peru counterparts, discusses bilateral cooperation

    External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday began his engagements at Munich Security Conference as he met United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Peru Foreign Minister Javier Gonzalez-Olaechea

  • WATCH recap of PM Modi’s visit to UAE and Qatar

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on an official visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 13-14 February and to Qatar from 14-15 February

  • Singapore Airshow: Made of US, European parts, can China tout ‘homegrown’ C919 jetliner as Airbus, Boeing alternative?

    C919 currently lacks the necessary global certifications to make it worthy for international role. It has been domestically certified by the Civil Aviation Administration of China

  • Severe storms push Queensland on edge as Indian national found dead in floodwaters near Mount Isa in Australia

    The Indian High Commission in Australia’s Canberra said it is in touch with the family of the deceased to render necessary assistance

  • Egypt sets up area at Gaza border for sheltering Palestinians in case Israel’s Rafah op prompts exodus: Sources

    Egypt is making arrangements along the Gaza border to potentially accommodate Palestinians in the event of an Israeli offensive into Rafah prompts an exodus across the frontier, according to a report, citing four sources

Protesting farmers agree to fresh talks with Centre


Protesting farmers agree to fresh talks with Centre

Farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal, the president of Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Sidhupur), said that Union Minister Anurag Thakur in a statement said that the Central government is ready to hold talks with the protesting farmers and is also ready to resolve their issues

Concrete barricades, sealed borders: WATCH how Delhi Police secures capital as farmers' protest intensify


Concrete barricades, sealed borders: WATCH how Delhi Police secures capital as farmers’ protest intensify

A police official said that officials have been asked to chart out a ‘Plan B’ in case things go south and protesting farmers from Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan enter the city and try to reach the Parliament

Section 144 imposed ahead of farmers’ Delhi Chalo protest: What’s allowed, what’s not?


Section 144 imposed ahead of farmers’ Delhi Chalo protest: What’s allowed, what’s not?

A day before farmers undertake the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, pressing for its multiple demands, the Delhi Police has imposed Section 144 in the Capital for a month — until 12 March. The order prohibits rallies, processions, and also states that weddings and funerals can be held only with prior permission

No tags 0 Comments 0

No Comments Yet.