The pledge of "Lota Nun" (Oath of Salt or Namak)

66th day, 29 January 2021

At yesterday's Muzzaffarnagar Mahapanchyat, farmers of 36 brotherhoods took a pledge, calling for social boycott of BJP, the 1st time since the revolt of 1857

Day 66
Toll 182

Completely unreported in media, yesterday, lakhs of farmers from 36 Biradaris came together at the Muzzaffarnagar mahapanchyat and took the oath of Lota Nun for a social boycott - hukka paani bandh - of the Bhartiya Janata Party. Friends tell me this oath of salt (nun) in Ganga water in a spouted vessel (lota) signifies that each oath taker's individual view is now subsumed in the community's view and can never be separated.

The historical antecedents of this oath are yet to be established, are not covered in textbooks, is that very rarely in history have the Biradaris taken this oath. Most likely, its first occurrence was with Timur's invasion of Delhi, 1398. It was taken in 1857, Meerut Uprising against British. Today is the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination by RSS/Hindu Mahasabha. Gandhi had administered the Salt Pledge before Dandhi March, not the same as Lota Nun, but similar idea.

I feel this oath, or the way Panjab and Haryana created Singhu and Tikri in the manner of how in the 18th century Sikh Misls advanced (military term: divisions, confederacy states) to establish encampments, as significant. Simply because people are ancient and our cultural history and memory in many ways define us, just like modernity defines us. If ancient practices have to be questioned on many occasions, which they must be, we also need to see how they are invoked to create unity - in this case against the Hindutva regime. The Lota Nun pledge has led to Ghazipur site swelling many times from the night of January 27, thousands upon thousands are still arriving.

This is a great mobilization and takes the battle of India to where it should always have been fought: the Hindi heartland. The need for this came about because of the Red Fort flag fracas the Hindutva forces enacted with complicity of some people and by firing the gun from the shoulder of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee. Hindutva was looking for an opening to create a gap between Hindus and Sikhs, isolating Panjab once again. It did not succeed. One call for 'water from my village' has led to this huge solidarity.

In fact, the heartland views the hoisting of Kissan flags, Nishan Sahib, some Union flags, not as insult to the Tricolour (for the national flag was not even touched) but a claiming of our nation's historic building, the Red Fort, from the corporates to which the government has leased it out. This is exactly why the farmers are protesting - to prevent corporate takeover of agriculture. The heartland knows there is no established Khalistan flag, there is no Khalistan movement. Something that drove urban, middle-class India into paroxysms. Social media, take a break!

However, watching the Samyukth Kisan Morcha leadership fumble at Singhu for last few days over this amuses me. My posts are meant to inform not comment but I want to state: What is SKM's great need to be defensive? Isn't it time SKM reflects, bridges gaps with youth cadre, shakes hands with KMSC? At this critical juncture, SKM should refrain from publicly blaming KMSC for incidents of Republic Day Tractor March. It is anyway the past, it has gifted us a vastly reinforced Ghazipur.

In fact, yesterday, there was a Sanghi attack at Singhu. Godi media, of course, describes it as locals who attacked. There is clear footage of police standing by for a long time as the attackers started pelting stones at farmers. Police gets into action only when farmers group up, that too to teargas them, even Molotov Cocktails were used.

Thankfully the tent towards which they were hurled did not catch fire. Some thirty to forty farmers sustained injuries. After that the police escorted the attackers as if they were state guests. No arrests were made.

It is clear that the state is down to dirty tricks. However, all sites are standing tall. Lota Nun means this is going to be a long year ahead. Remember, after 1857 it took us 90 years to get rid of the British.

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Jan 31, 2021