NEW DELHI, Feb 4: With the farmers’ agitation assuming political overtones and the opposition parties coming up on the forefront following the start of the budget session of Parliament, the government has initiated moves to isolate the groups of protesters on Delhi’s borders preventing even the MPs from meeting them.
In an apparent bid to demoralize the agitators, the Delhi police cyber cell has registered an FIR to investigate what the ruling BJP called an “international conspiracy” to defame the Government of India and “destabilize the country.” A section of the Indian media also stood exposed terming all pro-farmer tweets as “interference in the internal affairs of India” while the pro-government comments from abroad were appreciated as a “shot in the arm” for the Narendra Modi government.
While the opposition members in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday pleaded with the government for “building bridges” with the agitating farmers instead of “creating walls,” the ruling party members kept harping that the agitators and their supporters were “anti-nationals” receiving support from “Khalistanis” and “anti-India” forces.
Even as the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait clarified that the proposed “chakka jaam” on Saturday was not meant to cause dislocation in Delhi but only on the highways across the country, the police have continued to build fortress around the border to deny protesters any chance to sneak into the national capital.
The Farmers’ unions have called the ‘chakka jaam’ as a protest against the government’s decision to shut down internet services at protest sites, the police barricading and the Centre’s three farm laws that the protestors want repealed.
Tikait said on Thursday that there would be a three-hour-long ‘chakka jaam’ on February 6 everywhere outside the national capital. He said the people stuck in the jam would be provided food and water and would be informed what the government was doing to the farmers.
“There’ll be a three-hour-long ‘chakka jaam’ on February 6. It won’t take place in Delhi but everywhere outside Delhi. The people that will be stuck in it will be given food and water. We will tell them what is the Govt doing with us,” Tikait said.
The call for the “chakka jaam,” however,’ has created divisions with the farmers’ ranks with the RSS-affiliated farmers’ body, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), said they would not support the ‘chakka jaam’, citing that the protests had become political propaganda.
“Now, the protest at all the borders of Delhi is very much political and it is clearly visible that this has become political propaganda,” BKS General Secretary Badri Narayan Choudhary said. Choudhary also noted the international support the protests had garnered and called it ‘propaganda against India’.
The Delhi Police cyber cell has registered an FIR to investigate an “international conspiracy” to defame the country, a senior police officer said.
He said they have registered an FIR after a Twitter handle had shared a “toolkit” but deleted it later. No names have been mentioned in the FIR, the officer said.
Praveer Ranjan, Special Commissioner of Police said that an FIR had been registered under section 124A (Sedition), 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153 A (Promoting enmity between different groups) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy). He added that it also aims at waging social cultural and economic war against India.
“Delhi Police is monitoring social media in connection with the Kisan agitation. In the process, Delhi police has identified more than 300 social media handles, which have been used for pushing hateful and malicious content. These handles are being used by some organisations/ individuals having [a] vested interest and they are spreading disaffection against Govt. of India,” said Ranjan.
Police said in the context of Kisan agitation, while the farmers may not even be aware as to what forces are guiding their actions and setting their agenda, there were clear indicators that hostile “deep state actors” were either behind it or would join in to exploit the sentiments.
A preliminary enquiry has revealed that the toolkit in question appears to have been created by an allegedly pro-Khalistan organisation Poetic Justice Foundation.
“In the process of social media monitoring, we have come across one particular document which was uploaded on one of the social media handles on one particular platform. This ‘toolkit’ has a particular section in the document titled ‘Prior Action Plan’ and says digital strikes have to be conducted using hashtags before January 26,” he further added.
“If you go by the unfolding of events on January 26, including the violence which unfolded, it reveals a copycat execution of the action plan mentioned in the toolkit,’ Ranjan said. He also highlighted that the toolkit aims at ‘waging social, cultural and economic war against the government of India.’ He also said that the Delhi Police’s Cyber Crime cell will be conducting further investigation into the case.
One of the most stringent attacks on the government from the opposition benches in the upper house came from the RJD member Manoj Kumar Jha wondering who the government was fighting against. “When trenches have been dug, barbed wires erected and spikes installed to cut off farmers, they have stripped off basic facilities like water supply and toilets. Who are you fighting? They are your own farmers,” he said. “The country is not made up of police, arm, Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram. The country is made of relations and you have soiled those relations.”
Stating that Bihar now has only contractual labourers and not farmers, after it the Minimum Support Price based crop procurement in 2006, Jha asked: “Bihar has been turned into a labour-supply state. You want Bihar model in Punjab and Haryana?”
Meanwhile, a delegation of 15 MPs from 10 Opposition parties, led by Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, was on Thursday stopped by the police from reaching the Ghazipur border to meet the protesting farmers.
According to Badal, the Opposition leaders were not allowed to cross the barricades and reach the protest site. “Saw first hand the conditions created at Ghazipur border. Shocked to see the treatment being meted out to the ‘annadaata.’ Farmers are barricaded behind fortress-like concrete barriers and barbed wire fencing. Even ambulances and fire brigades cannot enter the protest site,” Badal said in a tweet.
Badal, a former Union minister in the Modi cabinet who resigned in protest against the three farm laws, said the Opposition leaders were forced to walk three kms to the protest site. “We are here so that we can discuss this issue in Parliament. The Speaker is not letting us raise the issue. Now all the parties will give details of what is happening here,” she said.
Supriya Sule from NCP, Kanimozhi and Tiruchi Siva from the DMK, Saugata Roy from the TMC were also part of the delegation. Members of the National Conference, RSP and the IUML were also part of it.