Jaskaran Sandhu: When In Doubt, Unleash The Goons

For minorities across India, for anyone bold enough to challenge tyrannical governments, the fear of party sponsored goons is real. It has been for decades. 

Jaskaran Sandhu
January 29, 2021 | 2.5 min. Read

When in doubt, unleash the goons.

Irrespective of the political party in power, directing brute force via the hands of what appears on the surface to be private local citizens has been a hallmark of how Indian governments have dealt with dissent. 

What is occurring at Singhu border this morning should not come as a shock to anyone. For minorities across India, for anyone bold enough to challenge tyrannical governments, the fear of party sponsored goons is real. It has been for decades. 

Indian political parties, past and present, from the BJP to the Congress, love it for multiple reasons. Although, the BJP seems to have perfected it over the years, bolstered by the Nazi-inspired Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - a member of the Sangh Parivar that is actually the driving force behind the Hindutva movement. 

The first step is to organize the goons, which are often pulled through multiple networks, including party volunteers and members of organizations like the RSS. These goons are often equipped with sticks or knives.

They are then directed to attack a particular site, in this case, the Singhu border, which has acted as the central hub for the farmers’ protest. It is also a protest site with a large population of Punjabi and Sikh farmers. 

Here is the thing though, access to and from Singhu border is tightly sealed and monitored by police - so how do the goons get there? Collusion. Goons always operate under the blessings of the current political party, which in turn directs police to stand down and stand by

Then the violence starts. Rocks, lathi charges, or anything that they can get their hands on is directed at the target. Again, this is all done under the watchful eye of the police. They will not intervene, not yet at least.

Now it is the Godi media’s turn to play its role. The goons will be labeled as “locals”. “Locals have confronted the protests”. “Locals have started to push back on protestors”. “Locals are the good guys, the protestors are the others”. It is a classic strategy to present the illusion that it is average citizens and residents fighting back against outsiders. Lies. 

So you are now a farmer protecting your family from these goons, what do you do? You fight back. You fight back every single time. Farmers know the police are not going to anything, in fact, those same police officers were lathi charging them the other day. So, they defend themselves. Well, now, that is unacceptable - so the police have to intervene now because the farmers have lost their temper. 

The media will update their story as well. The locals, which were sick and tired of these protestors imposing themselves on their homes, are being attacked by out-of-control farmers. Remember those farmers? Yea, the same ones that attacked the Red Fort. 

The entire media apparatus, the government, security forces, will direct their focus on the farmers and their protest as a result. They will use incidents like this one to justify further crackdown and escalation. They will petition the Supreme Court, they will do media circuits, they will tweet, they will do everything they can to shut down the protestors over something they manufactured. Anything to crackdown on dissent.

Rinse and repeat. 


Jaskaran Sandhu hails from Brampton, Canada, and is the co-founder of Baaz. He is a Senior Consultant at the public affairs agency Crestview Strategy. Jaskaran also previously served as Executive Director for the World Sikh Organization of Canada and as a Senior Advisor to Brampton’s Office of the Mayor. You can find Jaskaran on Twitter at @JaskaranSandhu_

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