Case against Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu for his comments on television on the farmers' protests

Published : January 02, 2021 15:09 IST

Ravneet Singh Bittu, Congress MP from Ludhiana. Photo: Kamal Singh/PTI

The Sangh Parivar’s and the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s efforts to brand the farmers’ siege on the borders of Delhi anti-national was revived aggressively on New Year’s eve with the filing of a case against Ravneet Singh Bittu, the Congress MP from Ludhiana. The comments that he made on a television news channel were cited as the reason for the case. The comments, which were seen as “threatening and prejudicial to national integration”, and “causing social and communal disharmony” were as follows: “The ongoing protest of farmers will not end even if dead bodies get piled up, and we have to shed blood. We will go to any extent to achieve our goal."

Ravneet Singh Bittu has been part of the farmers agitation against the three controversial farm laws right from its early stages and has raised issues central to the agitation in several media interactions. Apart from participating in the farmers’ siege, Bittu was also part of a sit-in protest at central New Delhi's Jantar Mantar. The young leader is often branded in Congress stages as a firebrand and has made impassioned speeches against the Modi government in all these engagements.

However, his comments on the television channel, which were relatively less fiery when compared with his other public utterances, have been specially targeted to file the case on December 31. The FIR against Bittu was filed at Parliament Street police station under Sections 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, pertaining to insult intended to provoke breach of peace.

The case was filed on the basis of a complaint filed by Naveen Kumar of Delhi. Bittu's statements, the first information report stated, were likely to cause fear in the minds of the public and induce people to commit an offence against the state or public tranquillity. Responding to the case, Bittu posted a Facebook Live video on January 1, in which he said he considered the FIR “a medal” for himself. Speaking to Frontline, Bittu said he would be sitting at Jantar Mantar all through the day and the authorities were free to come and arrest him. In the video, addressing Home Minister Amit Shah, who is the Minister in charge of Delhi Police, he said, “And if you do not have the courage to arrest me, I'll come and surrender myself."

The “anti-national” bogey is one of the main weapons of the Sangh Parivar and the Modi government in their attempts to suppress and side line political and social movements opposed to them. The ploy was employed against the farmers’ agitation, too, in its early stages, but this was soft-pedalled later as the unions highlighted concrete instances of the patriotism shown by the families of farmers. However, the case against Bittu, and the Sangh Parivar campaign on it, suggests that the bogey is set to return in the new year.