Where does the protest stand now?

We witnessed hooliganism, vandalism, violent clashes and death on our Republic Day, transforming a peaceful protest for a just cause into a dirty display of mindless bravado and brawn. What was achieved was the desecration of the farmer’s movement against the three farm laws, and the farmer leaders remain discredited. All through the two-month-long agitation, the protesters had shown exemplary restraint and had controlled the younger elements from breaching the elders’ commitment to the tenets of non-violence. How did things go so completely out of hand? There are various theories doing the rounds, but the police ought to take a fair share of the blame for letting the vandals reach Red Fort and enact the unseemly drama of violating the sanctity of the ramparts from where the national flag is raised every Independence Day.
The Congress-led opposition on Wednesday said the Republic Day mayhem in the capital was a “government conspiracy” to discredit the farmers’ agitation and sought answers on how a section of aggressors were allowed to storm the Red Fort while Delhi police “looked the other way.” The Congress and the CPM questioned the presence of “BJP associate Deep Sidhu” at the Red Fort on Tuesday and asked why despite evidence of his role in the violence; he had not been booked or arrested.
Punjabi actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, who was chased away from Singhu border after the Red Fort violence on Republic Day, surfaced with a Facebook Live at 2 am on Thursday to say that he’s “very much near the Delhi border” and objected to farmer leaders calling him a gaddar (traitor) for derailing the two-month-long agitation against the Centre’s farm laws. Two factions have withdrawn their support in the aftermath of Red Fort breach on January 26. Several farmers' leaders may face action as Centre, Delhi Police are engaged in reviewing what unfolded at the heart of the Capital on Republic Day. The ongoing farmers' protest against three agriculture laws which are now on hold according to Supreme Court's latest verdict appeared to have lost its sight in the aftermath of the Republic Day violence as infighting among the unions surfaced.
Now, the farmer leaders should accept the moratorium announced by the government and bring the temperature down. Even now the farmer leaders can seek a longer suspension of the laws and reciprocate it by an equal period of suspension of the protest. If the government does not keep its word, the protesters are free to resume their agitation.  
 

- Prabhakar Purandare

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