Lucknow: After a marathon meeting between the government and farmers once again ended inconclusively, a group of khap leaders or traditional sub-caste councils in Western Uttar Pradesh, are all set to completely block the Loni border that leads to Delhi and Haryana on Thursday (January 17). This is part of the ongoing kisan protest at Delhi’s borders demanding repeal the Centre's new agri laws.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the chiefs of khaps or caste councils held on Friday at Mandola village in Baghpat district, said Chaudhary Jitendra Dhama, president of Dhama Khap (council). The khap leaders said due to the closure of the Singhu border, all vehicles were going to Delhi from Loni border via the Delhi-Shamli highway. From January 17, the farmers will also close the Loni border, too, like Ghazipur, Tikri and Singhu by starting a sit-in protest. However, the farmer organisations said they had no plan to block vehicular traffic at border, reiterating that their agitation will continue till the agricultural laws are withdrawn.
It may be recalled that Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) supporters have been camping at the Ghazipur border for the last 45 days under the leadership of their national spokesperson, Rakesh Tikait.
Dhama told NewsClick that the police had put up barricades at several places to disrupt the khap leaders’ journey but added that they would make it to the border “at any cost”.
“Farmers have encircled Delhi since the past 45 days, protesting against three agri laws, but the movement of vehicles continues from all borders, except Singhu. The farmers believe that there will be no effect on the Central government until Delhi is completely jammed. The khap leaders present at the meeting in Khekra held on Friday said now the farmers will also close the Loni border completely."
Friday’s meeting concluded with the khap leaders saying that the way the Centre is trying to divide the farmers by sending its people to infiltrate the protest and create confusion is a clear indication that farmers' demand will not be accepted easily.
They said khaps had been sending food, cots, tents and other essentials commodities for the farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders, but will now join them at border.
The meeting also decided to collect donations from each family in their villages, irrespective of their caste and community, in support of the movement.
Earlier, the heads of all the 15 khaps from Western Uttar Pradesh had extended support to the farmers' protest at Delhi's border points and had some 100 of them had joined the protest site at UP Gate in Ghazipur.
Meanwhile, the farmers’ indefinite dharna (sit-in) continued on the 28th day in Baraut town of Baghpat district. Earlier, farmers led by khap chaudharies (clan leaders) sat on dharna on the Delhi-Saharanpur highway on December 17 in solidarity with the protesting farmers.
Activists of BKU (Tomar), led by their divisional president Padam Singh, staged a day-long dharna at the Meerut Cantt railway station on Tuesday to express their solidarity with the farmers' movement.
Saroorpur Kala Village Bans Entry of Politicians
In Baghpat district, a farmers’ majority village in Western Uttar Pradesh, barely 75 km from Delhi, is in the news for another reason. Villagers of Saroorpur Kala have “banned” the entry of political leaders who are not supporting the ongoing farmers’ agitation into their villages.
The decision to ban “anti-farmer and pro-farm laws politicians” was taken by a khap panchayat of 36 caste groups in the village on January 13. The panchayat also raised the issue that farmers in Uttar Pradesh are being booked under stringent Goondas Act.
Sunil Chaudary, a khap leader, who was part of the meeting, told Newsclick: "If they (politicians) can't stand with farmers during their battle for survival, what's their relevance? They do not have the moral right to ask for votes. We have decided to ban such politicians after seeing news on television or reading in newspapers that they are calling farmers ‘terrorists’ and are trying to discredit the movement".
Another farmer said they had been practising tractor marches in villages ahead of the Republic Day and farmers from UP will participate in “huge numbers” on January 26.