02 August, 2021

Running On Jat Fuel

A seemingly imploding agitation against three contentious laws found a new lease of life after a teary appeal from Jat farmer leader Rakesh Tikait. What next for the farmers who have vowed to carry on till the laws are repealed? The face-off with the government just got more intense.

Rakesh Tikait addresses a mahapanchayat in Jind, Haryana
Photographs by PTI
Running On Jat Fuel

Time is a great healer, they say. On January 29, many in western Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar stood witness to a moment of rapprochement that could inflect India’s political history—or not. It’s vital to offer that caveat right at the outset. For, the unseen undercurrents of our politics do not necessarily submit to neat surface syllogisms. Contrary pulls make up our political psychology to such an extent that its effects often seem irrational. And yet, when leaders of two communities—Jats and Muslims—came together to address a mahapanchayat in Sisauli village, no one could be faulted for seeing in that event a kind of tectonic shift. The ground itself moving...but back to its original, organic whole. Towards a suture, towards healing.

This needs the backstory. Healing presupposes a wound, and this one was of the order of a mini Partition. The death toll in the Muzaffarnagar riots wasn’t high—only about 60—but the incidents spoke of a complete social amputation. Over 50,000 Muslims found themselves wrenched away from...

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