Rajat Sharma

How farmer leaders are openly giving protection to Red Fort violence accused

akbThrowing a challenge at Indian democracy, fugitive gangster Lakha Sidhana appeared at a rally at Punjab CM Capt Amrinder Singh’s native village Mehraj in Bathinda district on Tuesday, and dared Delhi Police to arrest him or any other accused inside Punjab. It was a direct challenge thrown at police and a travesty of law and order.

Lakha Sidhana spewed venom against the Central government, addressed thousands who had gathered at the rally, and then fled the spot riding a motorbike. This gangster claims to be an activist and is hiding from Delhi Police, which has announced a Rs 1 lakh reward for information leading to his arrest.

Sidhana is on the run since the January 26 mayhem in Delhi, when anti-national elements forced their way into the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, attacked policemen and hoisted a flag at the spot. At the rally, Lakha Sidhana called on farmers, traders and common people to intensify the agitation and said nothing less than a complete repeal of all the three farm laws was acceptable.

Sidhana was on the dais for nearly two hours, but not a single policeman tried to arrest him. He asked villagers to gherao Delhi Police team if it comes to their villages to round up activists. He also warned Punjab CM Capt. Amrinder Singh not to allow state police to accompany the Delhi police teams. In his speech, Sidhana said, this fight was not only for ‘fasal’ (crops), but also for ‘nasl’ (generations) and history is written for those who fight for their rights.

For more than a week before Tuesday’s rally, posters were put up in and around Bathinda asking people to come and hear Lakha Sidhana speak, and yet Punjab Police did not act. The Special Cell of Delhi Police had been trying to locate Sidhana for the last several weeks, but the gangster had been constantly changing his locations. A few days ago, he circulated a video speech recorded at a local gurdwara.

Tuesday’s rally was carefully planned by the organizers to stop police from coming near the dais. Tractor trolleys were posted on the roads leading to Bhatinda grain mandi, where the rally was held.

The saddest part is that some top farmer leaders like Gurnam Singh Chadhuni and Joginder Singh Ugrahan are supporting elements like Lakha Sidhana. In Chandigarh, Gurnam Singh Chadhuni told a kisan panchayat not to allow police to enter the village and arrest activists. He asked villagers to gherao police team if they tried to arrest anybody. Another farmer leader Ruldu Singh Mansa was sitting on the dais. Delhi Police had issued a summons to Mansa to appear for investigation, but the farmer leader declined.

From the dais, Chadhuni challenged Delhi Police to come and arrest Ruldu Singh Mansa. Joginder Singh Ugrahan threatened that if Mansa was arrested, there will be “waves of violence” in Punjab.

I am surprised how senior farmer leaders, who till yesterday were claiming that they had no connections with Red Fort violence accused Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana, were sharing dais with the latter. After the Red Fort violence, farmer leaders had alleged that Sidhu and Sidhana had connections with BJP and they were sent to Red Fort deliberately to tarnish the image of farmers’ movement.

The picture is clear now: those who indulged in violence and insulting of national flag on January 26, are being given open protection by the farmer leaders and their political sympathizers. The farmer leaders had misled the nation after the violence and are still continuing to mislead the people.

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