NEW DELHI: A day after unruly scenes in Delhi, when a section of protesting farmers broke rules and promises, there was another emotion visible among the youngsters camping at the borders of the national capital. Branded “anti-nationals” and “Khalistani”, the generation next of the agitators were wondering what they had done to draw such remarks.
“Not a single window of anybody’s home, no private property was damaged. No shop was burnt, no general public was harmed. So why are they calling us Khalistanis and anti-nationals?” said Satinder Singh Shahi at the Ghazipur protest site. The 20-year-old’s comment seemed to reflect what a majority of his age group are thinking.
Camping at the border for nearly two months demanding rollback of the three farm laws, they have experienced both sides of life. There were people who supported them and there were also those who called them names. What hurts them most is the branding along religious lines. “By calling us Khalistani, people in the media and government are bringing back memories of 1984.
Can we not protest just as Indians? Why is it that our protest is painted in religious colours? Police were trying to stop us and our parade. There seems to be a deliberate attempt to malign our image and run a smear campaign against our protest,” said Gop Kalan, 21, from Bilaspur in Uttar Pradesh.
Moving around the protest site, it is difficult to miss an uneasy quiet that seems to be growing. As it is, things were bad, sitting in the cold under constant vigil of the police. But talks of conspiracy by the police and the disrepute caused by Tuesday’s unruly incidents seem to have made their resolve stronger. “Even after letting us take out the parade, police blocked our way by putting up shipping containers and buses. All this was done after giving us permission. But our protest will continue till they are taken back,” Gurmeet Singh, 23, from Shahjahanpur.