Lucknow: With sugarcane harvesting almost over in western Uttar Pradesh, thousands of farmers from Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut on Thursday began their tractor march, which is expected to reach Ghazipur border next day on June 25. The farmers are marching to ensure that the momentum of the ongoing agitation against the Centre’s farm laws stays intact.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait fraction), a prominent outfit at the forefront of the ongoing farmers’ agitation, have announced that batches of farmers with tractors from several parts of the state will start moving towards Ghazipur border in the coming days so that the number of protesters at the agitation site keeps growing.
"Around 3,000 tractors, a thousand each from Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur, along with ten thousand farmers are expected to join the tractor march to Ghazipur border. They will stay at Shivay toll plaza at night in Meerut on Delhi-Doon National Highway where farmers have been protesting for the last 30 days. In the early morning, we will move towards the border with the caravan," Naresh Tikait, president of BKU, who is leading the 'tractor march', told Newsclick. He added that several groups of farmers from adjoining districts are all set to leave for the border on July 2. "Preparations are in full swing, and we would ensure that the momentum of agitation at the protest site on Delhi borders does not drop for the number of protesters," he further added.
Accusing the government of not paying heed towards protesting farmers' concerns, the BKU leader said that the government has left no other choice than intensifying the protest being held at the Ghazipur border. He said that the 'tractor march' would be historic and make the government realise the power of farmers. "The central government should remove this misconception from its mind that the farmer will go back. We would not accept anything less than repealing of the farm laws. Also, the government should ensure procurement of all crops in all the states at Minimum Support Price (MSP) as is our legal right,” he added.
Farmer leaders have taken the decision to further escalate the protest against the three farm laws at a ‘mahapanchayat’ held in Sisauli town of Muzaffarnagar district -- the hometown of Tikait brothers -- on June 21 to reclaim the Ghazipur border. The meeting headed by Naresh Tikait and BKU district president Dheeraj Latiyan was attended by hundreds of farmers from different districts of western UP. At this meeting, they gave a call for the 'tractor march'.
According to BKU’s Muzaffarnagar district president, Latian, door-to-door meetings in the region are being held to mobilise farmers to join the march for the past one week. There is anger among farmers over non-payment of sugarcane, skyrocketing diesel prices and harassment by the police, he claimed. Several rounds of meetings at BKU's district headquarter were also organised with farmers across all the west UP districts to discuss new strategies for speeding up the ongoing agitation at the border. "After holding discussions with farmers, which will continue till June 7, we will be sending a contingent of people from every district to Ghazipur border," Latiyan had earlier told Newsclick.
Meanwhile, hundreds of farmers from Bulandshahar had started a similar five-day ‘Kisan Kranti Padayatra’ (foot march) towards the Ghazipur border on June 12 and reached on June 8. It was led by former BKU district president Guddu Pradhan.
PROTEST AT SHIVAY TOLL PLAZA
On the morning of May 26, after observing 'Black Day', farmers from Gautam Buddh Nagar, Meerut, Amroha, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, and Hapur picketed highway and toll plazas in their respective areas under the banner of BKU. They removed barricades from the toll gates allowing free movement of motorists.
The BKU supporters and leaders occupied toll plazas with an objective to stage the demonstration as part of their plan and to carry out similar protests at some other toll plazas in western Uttar Pradesh. Following their colleagues, the peasants also took over Dalpatpur-Ibrahim toll plaza on the Moradabad-Lucknow highway, which connects to Delhi. They also took control of the Chapar toll plaza on the Delhi-Doon highway and Rohana toll plaza on the Saharanpur-Delhi highway.
“On the instruction of our senior leader, we occupied the toll plazas in four districts and national highways. In coming weeks, our focus would be to spread out such activities in every district in eastern Uttar Pradesh. For that, preparation is going on, we are also organising meetings. The farmers’ protest should now become a pan India movement and then only we can survive for a long time and bring this government on its knees or throw them out of power,” Rajeev, a farmer who joined thr sit-in protest at a toll plaza, told Newsclick.
Meanwhile, Mazdoor Kisan Manch announced to organise ‘Kheti Bachao, Loktantra Bachao’ movement on June 26, with demands to roll back three draconian laws in eastern Uttar Pradesh, following the COVID-19 protocol.
Brij Bihari, general secretary of Mazdoor Kisan Manch, said, “It’s time to intensify the movement further and it will only be possible by conducting small protests, meetings and panchayats. The three agricultural laws are not only against farmers but they are a death warrant for us. If we don't understand now, things will go out of hand and then, nobody will protect our land.”