The current protest in the name of farmers has a startling metaphorical resemblance with the story of King Shishupal from the Hindu epic, Mahabharat. The public killing of Lakhbir Singh, according to some reports a Dalit-Sikh labourer, at the Singhu border protest site has only underlined the analogy. Thirty-five-year-old Lakhbir's hand was chopped from the wrist before he was killed.
Shishupal, Lord Krishna's cousin, was born with three eyes and four arms. When a prophecy foretold that he would die at the hands of Krishna, Shishupal's mother pleaded with Krishna to spare her son. Krishna promised that he would forgive a hundred unforgivable mistakes. But years later, when King Shishupal wilfully committed the 101th offence, Krishna beheaded him with his spinning blade, the Sudarshan Chakra. The prophecy was fulfilled.
Like Shishupal, the movement to oppose the Narendra Modi government's farm reforms was born with seemingly innocent intent but superfluous eyes and limbs of Pakistan's ISI-backed Khalistani separatism and other break-India forces swiftly infiltrated it.
The protests remained mainly restricted to Punjab because it was foisted by rich middlemen called 'arthiyas' who would be irrelevant with the new farm laws. The Congress party, devastated nationally but in power in Punjab, has fanned it. To gain local political mileage and milk the sympathy the nation has for its farmers, the Shiromani Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party have sided with the 'farmers' in SUVs as they dug up roads and set up AC tents, massage kiosks and pizza langers by blocking and digging up national highways.
While this macabre drama unfolded, India's largely poor small and marginal farmers, who make up 85% of those agriculturally dependent, kept quietly tilling their fields. Unlike the arthiyas, they do not have crores of cash and the luxury to sit in five-star protest for nearly a year. Their earthy wisdom tells them that the new laws are tilted in their favour.
The reforms cut the middleman and the cartels out, allow farmers to directly sell their produce in the market, and encourage the growing of indigenous and cash crops instead of being parasites of the minimum support price (MSP) system.
But the fake farmers are not interested. They want their cut. And they have found rich sponsors, it seems, because it takes thousands of crores to sustain this kind of a high-spend protest for so long. And like Shishupal, this so-called farmers' movement has repeatedly done the unforgivable.
Early on into the protests, a wanted Khalistani terrorist was spotted at the London rally. Throughout the protests, people wore T-shirts with '80s Khalistani terrorist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale's image.
Newer generations of Punjabis have not witnessed the wanton violence of the Khalistan movement. Renewed narrative-building by ISI-funded groups in the US, Canada, and the UK seeks to erase that from the remnants of public memory. Nor are most of them familiar with the sacrifices of Sikh gurus like Tegh Bahadur while resisting Islamist carnage and forced conversion. The recent Sikh killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan and even in Kashmir is an extension of the same violence. But Sikh youngsters are being convinced to join forces with the same jihadi forces, use farmers protests as an excuse, and lacerate their own homeland, India.
Millionaire organisers of farm protests even signed up international celebrities like Rihanna and Greta Thunberg to regurgitate a toolkit prepared with the stated purpose of bleeding and destabilising India. The so-called protesters then focused their energies on striking at Indian big business. Thousands of Reliance's Jio mobile towers were smashed in Punjab. Jio, incidentally, competes with China's Huawei in the global telecom wars. And just as Khalistanis are Pakistan's puppet, Pakistan is China's. It is hard not to join the dots.
The Shishupals of Singhu border then carried out their most spectacular show of violence and lawlessness. On India's Republic Day this year, thousands of armed hooligans stormed the capital Delhi, beat up and injured hundreds of policemen, dangerously drove tractors towards crowds, and breached the historic Red Fort to plant a Sikh religious flag by bringing down the Indian tricolour.
Still not satisfied, the 'farmers' at the Tikri border gang-raped a 26-year-old activist who was ironically supportive of their cause. Six have been booked for the crime. Then Lakhimpur Kheri happened. A central minister's convoy was attacked by a violent mob of protesters. The vehicle then ran over some of the protesters, either wilfully or out of panic and losing control. The driver and four BJP workers were then mercilessly beaten to death. The minister's son has been arrested, but it is not clear if those who beat the five to death were detained.
And now the brutality on Lakhbir, carried out allegedly by the militant Nihang sect of the Sikhs, makes one wonder if the umbrella protesters' body, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, has entirely lost control of its superfluous limbs.
The Centre has been remarkably restrained in dealing with the sinister protests, which is growing darker. It has suspended implementation of the new farm laws for 18 months. It has not cracked down hard on the criminals within the movement, sensing provocation to draw the government into tough action and then crying for sympathy.
But the 'annadata' narrative is slowly peeling off. Indians can now clearly see that beneath the costume of farmers exist many hardened criminals and anti-national elements.
Just like a differently-formed infant grew up to be the multi-limbed monster Shishupal, the farm-protest hooligans are sprinting towards self-destruction on the eggshells of a nation's patience.
The endgame could be ugly, but just.