The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC), which has a considerable hold in Punjab’s Majha region and some districts of Malwa and Doaba regions, has been under fire for choosing Delhi’s Outer Ring Road to conduct its tractor march on Republic Day.
KMSC is the only farmer union which remained adamant on holding the march on the Outer Ring Road despite the agreement of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM)—the umbrella body of the farmer unions protesting at the Delhi border—with the Delhi Police to take out the marches on four other routes.
SKM blamed the KMSC for misguiding the farmers and resorting to violence. SKM’s founding member Darshan Pal said the KMSC was responsible for the chaos. Several leaders of other farmer organisations, which have been protesting at the Delhi borders, have also condemned the KMSC.
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“Only KMSC was responsible for diverging from the route. It was this organisation’s announcement to go inside the national capital. This organisation is not a part of 32 unions belonging to Punjab. They came to protest at the Delhi border several days after our agitation started,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) President Balbir Singh Rajewal.
KMSC’s president is Satnam Singh Pannu. A group of farmers led by Pannu had parted its way from Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC) around one-and-a-half decades ago. Pannu along with other members of Communist Party of India (Marxist) had formed KSC. Pannu formed KMSC after his differences emerged with KSC’s state convener Kawalpreet Singh Pannu in 2007.
Kawalpreet Singh Pannu said, “KMSC, Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu and gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana have left no stone unturned to defame the peaceful agitation of farmers. KMSC deliberately diverted the route and allowed the protestors to reach the Red Fort. Two farmers have died at the Red Fort and we hold KMSC responsible for this.”
The KMSC has also been flayed on social media for distancing itself from the decision of the other farmer unions. A mob which stormed the Red Fort and hoisted two flags—one of a farmer union and another of saffron colour—was reportedly diverted from the march held by the KMSC at the Outer Ring Road.
KMSC’s general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher said, “When we went towards the Ring Road, we broke three or four barricades. Tear gas was used by the police. We are thankful to Delhi’s people who spent lakhs of rupees to serve food to the protestors. We are also thankful to those who have returned to the Delhi borders after the march.”
He said, “Through video messages, we had already been creating awareness that some outsiders would do mischief. Our organisation had no intention to move towards the Red Fort. It was our programme to hold the march peacefully on the Ring Road. Some of the farmers were coaxed by some anti-social elements. But, if they had gone there, what have they done? Our national flag was unfurling there and they didn’t disrespect it. Only Nishan Sahib (Sikh triangular flag that is hoisted outside most gurdwaras) was installed there. When we came to know that some of our farmers had gone there, we appealed to them and ensured their return. The small thing is being exaggerated to defame the agitation.”