New Delhi: The protest site at Ghazipur Border of the national capital witnessed new supporters on Monday, as members of the Valmiki community scrambled near the stage to extend solidarity to farmers opposing three Central farm laws since the past seven months.
The meeting took place in the backdrop of a confrontation on June 30 when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members assembled at the border to welcome its newly appointed office bearer Amit Valmiki from Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. The confrontation gave rise to speculation that the saffron party was mobilising members of the Valmiki community against agitating farmers in the Western Uttar Pradesh.
However, solidarity from groups hailing from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have reassured assuring that farmers that the community members will not be part of any anti-farmer mobilisation. Apart from Ghazipur, protesters in Panipat and other protest sites at toll plazas in Haryana, too, have reported about some anti-social elements provoking farmers by hurling abuses.
Swami Vivek Nath, who represented Valmiki temple in Chankyapuri, pointed out two ‘pernicious’ things associated with the protest. He said: “First, the farmers are protesting for seven months, braved chilling winters, scorching heat and now troubling rains and government has no shame that the just demands of farmers are heard. Second, it is using every tactic to break the unity of farmers even if it means rupturing the social fabric of the society. Our community was used by various governments as pawns to benefit the ruling classes. But here, on this stage, we affirm that we shall not be pawns now.”
Suresh Chand, General Secretary, Bulandshahr Safai Karamchari Union, told NewsClick that the incident of instigation by Amit Valmiki and other office bearers of the BJP has generated outrage among the members of the community who are now asking why he could not muster courage to speaking in favour of a dalit girl who was brutally raped and killed in Hathras last year.
Chand said: “The community is simply asking one question to elements like him (Amit Valmiki) being promoted by BJP that why were they silent on the barbarism in Hathras? They are doing this because they have many difficult questions to answer. It was then BJP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh who stopped permanent recruitment on the post of Safai Karamcharis and the status did not change when state and Centre are both ruled by BJP. They will have to answer why they failed to confer constitutional status to National Safai Karamchari Commission and simultaneously denying it the status to implement welfare schemes. They will have to also answer why we are being denied our dearness allowance in the midst of a pandemic when the inflation is ravaging. So, we have categorically told them to stop using our name to run their political propaganda.”
D P Singh from All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) told NewsClick that the kind of mobilisation BJP may be try among the Valmiki community is not feasible because the fabric of villages is intricately intertwined in such a manner that farmers and the community have mutual stakes in the movement. “If you see it politically, the community depends on farmers for broader support. Why would they put themselves in an uncomfortable and hostile situation? Second, the farm laws will hit the supplies being distributed through fair price shops, as essential commodities will not be procured under the new regime. So, they are feeling the heat now.”
Dharamender Malik, who heads the media cell of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait), told NewsClick that there may not be visible signs on the ground about mobilisation against farmers but attempts are being made to instigate a clash of castes and embroil the movement in such way that the attention of people could be diverted.
”BJP is trying to find a potent force that can serve their purposes. They have been trying hard to find one. They hope that the (Valmiki) community can serve this purpose. However, our meeting with the leaders of community have been reassuring. They said they would keep a vigilant eye on developments and stand by us. I think we should not read much into the incident but we have to be very cautious now.”