Jasjit Singh: Beware False Equivalency Between US Capitol Storming And Lal Qilla Flagpole
Upholding fascism versus destroying fascism - there is no comparison
February 10, 2021 | 3 min. read
It is truly an injustice to create a false equivalency, as some in the Indian media and government continue to do, between farmers raising flags at the Lal Qila (Red Fort) in Delhi to white supremacists storming the United States Capitol in Washington with the intent of overturning an election and attacking politicians.
How can a group working to uphold and reinstate white supremacy be compared to a group challenging a Hindutva state?
Upholding fascism versus destroying fascism - there is no comparison.
The Lal Qila itself is a 17th-century fort built by then Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, when he shifted the capital from Agra to Delhi. Although the current Indian state has never ruled from the fort, it holds a symbolic significance as anyone who controls the fort, in turn, controls the country.
By that logic, however, the country itself is owned by Dalmia Bharat Group, who signed a 5-year contract worth 25 Crore (250 Million) Indian Rupees to “own” the fort. It is the same way that the Modi-led BJP Government has essentially sold its nation’s farmers to large corporations through the implementation of these three farm bills.
When protestors entered the Lal Qila, they entered with the intention of amplifying the voice of the masses. They entered to speak for the 60% of India’s population that lives in poverty. They entered to express their democratic right to freedom of expression against the top 1% that owns almost 75% of India’s wealth.
They waived many flags. Some waived the Indian National flag, some waived communist flags, some waived black flags, some waived the Kisaan (Farmer) Union flag, and of course, some waived the Nishan Sahib.
When the Sikh protesters raised the Nishan Sahib and the Kisaan Union flag atop an empty flagpole on the ramparts, they did it to remind everyone that this land is for the people, not corporations.
They thought immediately of their own glorious history in fighting for righteousness, as their ancestors had previously taken the fort on 18 different occasions - the last time being in 1783 under the leadership of Sardar Baghel Singh.
After raising the Nishan Sahib in 1783, the Sikhs chose not to directly rule - but rather levied a tax against the Delhi ruler’s treasury, which was then used to build multiple Gurdwara’s (Sikh places of worship) across the city, including Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, which marks the spot where the 9th Sikh Guru was beheaded for speaking up against the Mughal Emperor that sought to forcibly convert Hindus from Kashmir. To this day, these Gurdwaras feed, clothe, and house thousands per day, without questions of caste, religion, creed, etc. Doing the job that the government continues to fail to do.
This Nishan Sahib flies at every Gurdwara in the world, but that is not it.
It flies at the front of the Nihang Sikh battalions who have stood between the police and protestors, to provide protection to the common folk.
It flies with the Sikh regiment of the Indian Army, sometimes exclusively - with no National Flag.
And, it absolutely flies atop a fort, which it has conquered countless times before.
Why? Because it marks the location where Sikhs can be found - where one will be provided Deg (Food), Teg (Protection), and achieve Fateh (Victory.)
Demonstrators entered a historical fort built by an oppressive regime, leased to a private firm at an amount that could be feeding millions of India’s hungry, to indicate their commitment to farmers, farm laborers, workers, and all those who have been oppressed by a fascist government. Comparing this to white supremacists violently laying siege to a working government building, is not just grossly inaccurate but it is grossly disrespectful.
Jasjit Singh resides in California, and works in the philanthropic sector. He is particularly passionate about Sikh & Punjabi history, civil rights, and racial justice. You can find him on Twitter at @JasjitSinghD.
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