Lucknow: An emotional video of Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait has provided the necessary fuel to a farmers’ agitation which witnessed a fall in numbers following the Red Fort incident during the January 26 tractor parade.
Thousands of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh from districts like Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Saharanpur, Baghpat, Bijnor, Rampur and Agra districts rejoined protest sites at UP Gate and Ghazipur Border late on Thursday night with much enthusiasm.
A SEA OF PEOPLE AT MAHAPANCHAYAT IN MUZAFFARNAGAR
All roads leading to Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh were flooded with tractors till late evening on Friday, with farmers from across western UP and areas like Mawana and Shamli joined the Kisan Mahapanchayat at Rajkiya Inter College.
The mahapanchayat was flooded with farmers. Addressing the huge crowd, farmer leader Naresh Tikait (Rakesh’s brother) said that their movement will continue at the Ghazipur Border come what may. He appealed to the people to join the protests in large numbers and strengthen the movement.
“The mahapanchayat had been called because the dignity of farmers could not be compromised with at any cost. We can not trust the BJP anymore. They have been insulting the farmers for the last 60 days. We are not against any government, but its policies, which will affect farmers at the grass root level,” Tikait said, disassociating the BKU from the incidents at Red Fort on Republic Day.
Asking for support for his younger brother, the BKU president said that it was time to correct the “mistake” the government had made. "The Mahapanchayat has ended now but in small panchayats have begun door-to-door campaigning to mobilise farmers and everyone has to reach the border to strengthen the farmers camping at Ghazipur border,” he added.
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary and Aam Aadmi Party's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh also reached the farmers’ mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar.
The call for a ‘mahapanchayat’ was given by Naresh Tikait in his strong-hold of Muzaffarnagar in the wake of incidents which unfolded at the Ghazipur protest site on Thursday night. Naresh Tikait hails from Sisauli village in Muzaffarnagar and also leads the Baliyan Khap, which is spread over 80 odd villages.
'WE CAN'T SEE OUR LEADER CRYING'
After watching Rakesh Tikait sobbing in front of the media on Thursday, a sea of people reportedly turned up at Sisauli, the ancestral village of the Tikait brothers.
Speaking to NewsClick, BKU leader Naresh Chaudhary said that mahapanchayats had taken place in various districts, including Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat and Baraut to mobilise people. Announcements were made from temples, mosques and gurdwaras to gather people in large numbers at the Ghazipur Border.
“Nearly 10,000 people from Meerut alone left for Ghazipur border on Thursday night despite the national highway being covered in a layer of fog with zero visibility. Mobilisation is expected in the hundreds of thousands,” Chaudhary said, adding that in Sisauli the villagers are being told that it was a question of “Jat pride”.
Abhinav, a youth from Muzaffarnagar district who reached the Ghazipur Border alongside hundreds from his village after watching an emotional Tikait, said: “Re maara budhha ruwa diya tanne, eeb kis kaam ki jawani (Our leader Tikait was made to cry, what is the use of being young?) Now Ghazipur Border will witness a sea of people,” he told NewsClick, adding that all of western Uttar Pradesh will become a symbol of the farmers' movement. “Thousands of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh are expected to join Chaudhary sahab (Rakesh Tikait) at the Ghazipur Border tonight,” he added.
Chaudhary Pushpendra, a Khap leader who has been mobilising farmers in Saharanpur said that they could not stand the fact that a man they hail as a “messiah” ended up shedding tears. “Groups of farmers from western UP arrived at the Ghazipur protest site at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border in a push back against the administration’s order to vacate the site. We would rather die by suicide than end the agitation,” he said.
Meanwhile, heightened security has been deployed at all district borders leading to the protest site.