Political experts, both real and armchair ones love to quote Sun Tzu or Chanakya. Saam, daam, dand, bhed is good practical advice for many occasions. What the Indian state needs more of is a simpler gyan, straight from Northern India – jiski lathi, uski bhains.

With the ‘farmers’ riots taking center stage, there is a risk of Delhi being besieged on a made-up pretext for a second time within a year. Just like the CAA ones, these protests have no merit, but bring together the usual cocktail of hardcore separatists (Khalistani in this case), wooly headed ‘useful idiots’, corrupt middlemen/politicians, clueless Bollywood ‘stars’, and gullible common citizens who genuinely believe the scare-mongering being fed to them.

The government has so far handled the protests with kid gloves, even though there have been several provocative statements and actions. The state continues to hold talks while friends of the protests such as Yograj Singh spew anti-Hindu venom. The farmers betray their lack of good faith in the talks by preemptively announcing a Modi effigy burning while the talks are still in progress. What is to be done?

What was done to kar sevaks by the Mulayam Singh government? What was done to Ram Rahim’s protestors in Haryana? What was done at Sabarimala? How did the US handle the Taliban? How was the LTTE finally finished off? We can go on and on but the point is that when it comes to state security, there are no prizes for a humanitarian approach. Goodwill and honest intentions are interpreted as weakness, and bargaining only leads to greater asks. Islamists have understood this concept well and used it effectively to get two Islamic countries carved out from Bharat, while also getting unequal rights for their community within India. Others such as Khalistanis merely copy the playbook.

The government should take the following steps:

1. Obtain testimonials from farmers across the country who are already benefiting from the farm law reforms. The right in India hasn’t fully understood and exploited the power of emotions which is what moves people to action or a change in mindset. These positive testimonials should be used to create sound bytes for social media and be supplemented with easy to understand, visual explanations of the bills

2. Send in the heavy artillery of studio guests who are fluent in both the hypocrisy of the opposition (most of whom supported the key parts of the bill before the government proposed them) and the current situation in Punjab related to MSP and middlemen

3. Divide the genuine farmer groups from the ones who are there to create trouble. This can easily be understood by those groups who are asking questions to get to resolution versus those that are plugging their fingers in their ears unwilling to have a constructive dialogue

4. Give an ultimatum to the latter on where and how they can protest, with strict no-nos on disrupting roadways, blocking transport, and generally causing issues for the common citizen

5. Finally, prepare and launch a full scale, non-lethal assault on ‘farmer’ groups that do not follow the government’s directives. This includes arresting and slapping non-bailable charges on people like Yograj Singh.

The Modi government has shown itself more than capable of taking tough decisions. It’s time to unleash the government’s law and order machinery on the protestors who seem hell-bent on damaging the nation’s capital, the NCR economy, and the nation’s dharmic fabric.  

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