Lucknow: "Ye ladayi ab kisano ke maan-samman ki ban gayi hai, zameen bech denge apni lekin Ghazipur se laut kar nahi aayenge (This battle has now become prestige for farmers, we will sell our land but not return from Ghazipur border),” said Piyush Pawar, a youth from Sikheda village in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, as he left his home along with his wife and four-year daughter in the wee hours of Saturday morning, January 30.
Pawar, who owns three-acres of land, is angry with the problems in government procurement of crops, which often forces them to sell crops at rates below the minimum support price (MSP), and delayed payment for crops.
"I am claiming after door-to-door survey that all those who have tractors in our district, you will now find them on the Ghazipur border now. One can imagine how a small protest at Ghazipur border is now turning into an epicentre of the movement," he told NewsClick, adding that anyone can find long queues of tractors emerging from villages of Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Bijnor, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Mathura and Agra.
According to a senior leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), at least 300 tractors and equal numbers of vehicles (cars, bikes, autos) from Muzaffarnagar are on the way to Ghazipur border. The farmers’ outfit has claimed that about three lakh people are expected to reach Ghazipur by Saturday evening from districts of Western UP.
He claimed that the emotional appeal of Bhartiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait and the mahapanchayat called by the outfit’s chief Naresh Tikait in Muzaffarnagar has enlivened the farmers for the agitation. Rakesh Tikait had earlier said that the stir against the three farm laws will continue and re farmers to reach the Ghazipur border in large numbers.
Echoing similar sentiments, the leader of Dhama Khap (caste council), Jitendra Dhama, said, “We are united now. After decades, leaders including Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh, Jayant Chaudhary, BKU leader Naresh Tikait and president of Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Manch Ghulam Mohammad Jaula, who was also a friend of legendary farm leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, shared the stage irrespective of their political ideology and religion during the mahapanchayat because it is a matter of life and death for farmers."
He added, “Now that we are united, let them (the government) use lathis and bullets”.
Explaining the further roadmap of farmers' protest and future, Naresh Tikait, BKU's president who had given the call for the mahapanchayat at GIC ground near Mahaveer Chowk in Muzaffarnagar, on Friday said, "With tons of tractors with the tricolour, the GIC ground was packed on Friday. It was a sea of people congregating to back the protesters at UP Gate in Ghazipur. This happened without any prior notice. The regional leaders and khap leaders joined and ensured to extend full support at Ghazipur border."
Also see: Ghazipur Border: Kisan Morcha Strengthened, Farmer Jathas Continue Pouring in
He further said that he along with his supporters are going to re-start the protest at the Delhi-Saharanpur highway near Baghpat where the Uttar Pradesh Police reportedly uprooted tents of farmers who had been protesting for the last 40 days. "Ghazipur inspired protest will spread in Western Uttar Pradesh. It has been decided in the meeting that not only Ghazipur but protests in several groups should start everywhere in the cane belt," he added.
When asked about his younger brother's emotional appeal which seems to have given an impetus the farmers' protests, he said, "I don’t know how many farmers cried and did not sleep the entire night after Rakesh burst into tears in front of the media. The entire village cried that day seeing our (farmers) plight.”
Tikait has also given call for another mahapanchayat in Baghpat district, from where he will move to Ghazipur border to join the protesting farmers.
Meanwhile, farmers associated with two unions — Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) and Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan— which had withdrawn from the agitation after the incidents of violence of January 26 in Delhi were also reportedly seen heading to the Delhi border after the mahapanchayat.
WEST UP VILLAGES TO BOYCOTT BJP LEADERS
There are also reports of major khap (council) panchayats in Western Uttar Pradesh deciding to socially boycott the leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and any activist associated with right-wing groups in protest against the farm laws.
Residents from several villages in Muzaffarnagar district including Sikheda, Nagla Mubarik, Nagla Kabir, Dankheri and Acharaj Kehra, Adampur in Baraut town of Baghpat district, have claimed that they will not spare anyone if they try to persuade farmers or talk about a pro-farm laws stand in the village.
A khap leader, on condition of anonymity, said that his clan has unanimously decided to restrict the entry of ruling party leaders and government officials in villages under their control until the three farm laws are repealed. "We elected Sanjeev Balyan, Sangeet Som and so many MLAs and MPs to the ruling party. They have become leaders because of us and now they are criticising farmers and ignoring our plight. We can not tolerate this anymore," he said.
Also read: Farm Laws: Punjab’s Panchayats Pass Resolutions Supporting Protests, Tractors Leave for Singhu Border
Many villages in Muzaffarnagar district have also banned the entry of BJP supporters, saying they won’t let anyone associated with the party to enter their village. Posters have come up in several villages reading, “We boycott and ban the entry of BJP leaders and supporters.”
Meanwhile, BKU’s youth wing’s state president Digamber Singh has also given a call for mahapanchayat on February 1 in Bijnor. While announcing the mahapanchayat, he said that the youth of western UP will play an important role in the ongoing agitation and it is necessary to mobilise them.
According to Dinkar Kapoor, president of Workers’ Front, a group of farmers and workers associated with the All India Peoples' Front, Jai Kisan Andolan, Mazdoor Kisan Manch, Workers' Front, Yuva Manch and BKU in Basti, Gonga, Sonbhadra, Agra, districts observed "Sadbhavna Diwas" on Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary on January 30 and held a day-long fast extending support to the agitating farmers.