Gurpreet Singh: Hey Modi, if you really care for what Nanak preached, give some respect to the farmers

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      The Indian prime minister’s greetings on the birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism sound hypocritical considering how his police have assaulted the agitating farmers from Punjab in the national capital of the world’s so-called largest democracy.  

      Sikhs celebrated the 551st birthday of Guru Nanak Dev across the globe on Monday (November 30).  

      In his radio address to the nation, Modi extended his greetings and noted that the influence of the Sikh Guru is visible around the entire world. He added, “From Vancouver to Wellington, from Singapore to South Africa, his message reverberates everywhere.”

      Undoubtedly, Nanak won over many hearts by preaching universal brotherhood and to share and earn one’s livelihood through honesty and hard work. He often dined with the poor and working people and refused to accept the hospitality of the rich and tyrants. Because of that he remained popular among the oppressed communities and the tillers.

      Apart from spreading the word about his newly founded religion that denounced Hindu orthodoxy and its brutal caste system, Nanak challenged the repression of the Islamic rulers.  

      Modi’s greeting—at a time when his police force in New Delhi have been harassing farmers from Punjab—is a mere token and lacks sincerity toward the message of Nanak.   

      Notably, Punjab farmers who are predominantly Sikhs are camping in the city along with farmers of other Indian states to register their peaceful protest against recent controversial bills introduced by the Modi government. These measures are aimed at rolling back subsidies given to the farmers even as India remains an agro-based economy. The bills were pushed through without due consultations, causing anxiety in the farming community.  

      There were not only attempts to prevent Punjab's farmers from entering the capital, but they were brutally assaulted by Delhi police. Those on the receiving end included aged farmers.

      If this was not enough, Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist supporters have been trying to label Sikh farmers as separatists and "antinational" to discredit them in the eyes of those following the developments on ground. Several embedded journalists are also trying to create a narrative of the agitation being led by the Sikh radicals without appreciating the fact that it is an organic movement that also include people with leftist backgrounds, besides members of other faith groups.   

      Modi and his sycophants should be ashamed of the fact that despite such barbarity and hostility, Sikh farmers have been seen serving meals and water to the policemen on duty in accordance with the teachings of Nanak, who started langar, or community kitchen, to break the barriers of caste and class.

      The moral of the story is that either Modi should stop making such meaningless gestures. He should give respect to the farmers as Guru Nanak too ploughed the fields like those who are being tormented by his police on the streets of New Delhi. If nothing, Modi needs to at least ask his supporters to stop spewing venom against the people who put food on his table.