Clashes erupted between locals and aides of Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sanjeev Balyan during his visit on Monday to a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar for a condolence meeting as the farm laws have sparked resentment against the saffron party.
Balyan, Union minister of state, had come to Soram village along with his supporters to attend the funeral prayers of Rajveer Singh even though he was not invited, Raju Ahlawat, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and member of Ahlawat Khap said. However, when the BJP MP was having tea at the village sarpanch's residence, a group of villagers raised slogans against him and the farm laws. Following this, one of Balyan’s aides snatched a stick and rods from the security staff and attacked the villagers. Four persons, namely Yogesh Balyan, Situ Balyan, Satpal Balyan and Harendra Balyan were severely injured during the clash.
"Sanjeev Balyan along with his supporters had first come to meet Khap leaders in Shamli district where he was not entertained by the villagers. A similar slogan was raised against him and farm laws there. Since then he was frustrated and looking for an opportunity for divisive agenda to break farmers’ unity and when he came to Soran for a condolence function on Monday, his aides started beating villagers. Anyone can assume that yesterday episode was preplanned," Ahlawat told NewsClick, adding that after the Soran incident, over 90% of the Jat community has turned against Sanjeev Balyan and his party.
Meanwhile, Situ Balyan, one of the four persons who were allegedly injured, has lodged a complaint at Shahpur police station. He said that they had been attacked by a dozen of aides of Balyan who had the intention to kill them and that they were abused for opposing the farm laws. The police are yet to register the FIR but the Circle Officer of Budhana has initiated an inquiry.
Situ, who said he was a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), said, "We have elected Sanjeev and sent him to the parliament and we have every rights to boycott him if he cannot support farmers. But instead of listening to our grievances, his goons beat us.” Situ added that he was pulled down by the Union minister's aides and local policemen who threatened them with dire consequences.
Meanwhile, in a video, making rounds on social media, three women can be heard saying that Sanjeev Balyan’s aides and security staff had chased the four protesters who chanted slogans against him. “Humne is din ke liye Balyan ko neta nahi banaya tha ki apne logon ko hi marega (We did not elected Balyan as a leader so that he will beat our own people)," they were heard saying.
Following the incident, hundreds of farmers associated with the BKU and villagers on Saturday night held a protest in front of the Shahpur police station to register an FIR against Sanjeev Balyan and his party workers. They handed over a complaint against Balyan and 27 unnamed persons to the police.
Remarking on the incident, BKU president Naresh Tikait said that in Bulandshahr, he had warned BJP leaders that convincing farmers in the village in the support of farm laws won't help any more, and rather it will create chaos in the region as people are angry. "I had suggested Rajnath Singh’s name to initiate dialogue with the farmers but they (government) did not pay heed,” Naresh Tikait said.
BKU’s national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said farmers should maintain their brotherhood. “When a public representative comes to the village, people should not cross the limits of decency while asking questions,” he said. He further said that the public representative should also respect the sentiments of people.
According to the villagers, the majority of the population of Soram is Balyan Khap to which both Sanjeev Balyan and Rakesh Tikait belong. "There are around 14 thousand population in Soram and over 85% population belongs to the Balyan Khap, which always plays a major role during the elections. All the orders of panchayat by Khaps pass on from here only. After yesterday’s incident, there is palpable anger among villagers and it will have an impact during the upcoming elections," Raju Ahlawat, told NewsClick.
A 'mahapanchayat' was also called by the villagers on February 26 to boycott Sanjeev Balyan and BJP leaders in the village. However, there was no official announcement made by the BKU officials.
Sanjeev Balyan, who went to Bhainswal village in Shamli district to meet influential Khap leaders on Sunday on the issue of the three agriculture laws faced stiff resistance from farmers during his visit.
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary took Twitter to condemn the incident in Soram.
सोरम गाँव में बीजेपी नेताओं और किसानों के बीच संघर्ष, कई लोग घायल! किसान के पक्ष में बात नहीं होती तो कम से कम, व्यवहार तो अच्छा रखो। किसान की इज़्ज़त तो करो! इब कानूनों के फायदे बताने जा रहे सरकार के नुमाइंदों की गुंडागर्दी बर्दाश्त करेंगे गाँववाले?#मुजफ्फरनगर pic.twitter.com/X21oP7iTgP
— Jayant Chaudhary (@jayantrld) February 22, 2021
Chaudhary said, “If there is no talk in favour of farmers, at least leaders should behave with decency. Honour the farmers! Will the villagers tolerate the hooliganism of government representatives who are convincing farmers the benefits of the new laws,” he said.