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UP: Farmers, Khap Mahapanchayat to Organise Protest in Wrestlers' Support

The decision came a day after dozens of farmer leaders were detained at the Ghazipur border and placed under house arrest by the police in the wee hours yesterday.
Mahila Mahapanchayat

Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sangita Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Photo courtesy: PTI


Lucknow: Farmers' organisation, along with Khap' panchayat' in western Uttar Pradesh, decided to organise a sit-in protest, seeking action against alleged harassment by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. 

The decision came a day after dozens of farmer leaders were detained at the Ghazipur border and placed under house arrest by the police in the wee hours yesterday before they proceeded to the national capital to attend the proposed "Women Mahapanchayat" in front of the new building of Parliament in Delhi on Sunday.

Bhartiya Kisan Union national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said that the farmers' group will raise the issue of the wrestlers in the next Kisan Panchayat.

"We will soon organise a Kisan Panchayat in Muzaffarnagar and discuss further action. We will not let the government and police harass our daughters, who brought laurels to the nation. It is a matter of shame that the women wrestlers who made us proud often are being harassed on the street," Tikait, who is in Lakhimpur Kheri, told NewsClick

State general secretary of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) Mukut Singh said, "It is unfortunate that the government is taking the side of BJP MP Singh, who has been accused of sexual assault. While the ruling party is known to have given slogans like 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao', we are witnessing how innocent women are dragged and treated by the police."

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Amit Singh who was put under house arrest for nearly seven hours speaking to NewsClick, said, "I did not have any idea that a close tab was being kept on the movement and location of farmer leaders daily. I was aware that the police would not let us near the new building of Parliament in Delhi, but house arrest was not even in my mind," he said, adding that by house arrest, the government has once again united the farmers' fraternity, and soon, West UP will witness a massive mahapanchayat. 

A BKU leader wishing anonymity told NewsClick that the police had started preparing a list of farmer leaders since they extended its support to join agitating wrestlers in Delhi. 

Digambar Singh, another leader of BKU, accused police of threatening farmers and preventing them from participating in the Delhi protest. 

"How can any government or state machinery stop us from joining the wrestlers? We will soon launch a protest here, and this time, it will be bigger than a farmers' protest."

Several western UP districts have witnessed mock drills by farmers, wherein they assembled at different places in large numbers. In Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Baghpat and Shamli, they took out a foot march to the district headquarters. On Sunday, several protests were reported from different districts.

Meanwhile, wrestlers in Kanpur and Purvanchal also threatened to protest in the state capital if justice was not served.  

Anand Trivedi, a wrestler of Shri Ram Akhara in Kanpur, told NewsClick, "When so many people are making allegations against Brij Bhushan, then why are those allegations not being investigated? The government always talks about the players' interest, so why is the players' interest not being seen here?" 


The political impact of this mobilisation among farmers and Khaps are discernible. Jats in Western Uttar Pradesh, led by the Khaps, seem to be consolidating again and coming back to the centre stage of the state's politics. 

All the major Khaps in Western Uttar Pradesh have given a call that if the government does not ensure justice — in effect, the arrest of Brij Bhushan — its members would arrive in large numbers at Jantar Mantar and join the protest.

The BJP, which is facing the ire of farmers in Western Uttar Pradesh led by the influential Jats, is said to be about 8% in the state. Around 17% of voters are from the Jat community in the sugarcane belt. The community has a direct impact on 18 Lok Sabha seats Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Bijnor, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Moradabad, Sambhal, Amroha, Bulandshahr, Hathras, Aligarh, Nagina, Fatehpur Sikri. 

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary along with his party cadres, participated in Nukkad Natak, or street play in Agra against the Center government's apathetic attitude and outright ignorance of the government towards wrestlers.

"I have decided to visit at least 1,500 villages to tell people how the ruling government who gave 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' slogans are harassing them. The whole narrative of this campaign is fake," Chaudhary told reporters in Agra. 

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