Farmers’ protest: BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) differs with other unions, not on hunger strike

Union general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said the decision was taken as the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, comprising 30 other farm organisations, did not consult it on the issue
Activists of the BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) blocking the road to Mansa near the Civil Hospital in Bathinda on Monday.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
Activists of the BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) blocking the road to Mansa near the Civil Hospital in Bathinda on Monday.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
Published on Dec 14, 2020 02:56 PM IST
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ByVishal Joshi

Differences surfaced among farmer unions yet again on Monday after Punjab’s largest association, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), announced it would not be observing the day-long hunger strike against the contentious central farm laws.

BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said the decision was taken as the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, comprising 30 other farm organisations, did not consult it on the issue.

“There is no plan to hold a hunger strike today or in the next few days,” said Kokrikalan, one of the key strategists of the union. “The joint forum kept our association out of the loop when 14 union leaders had an unscheduled meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah last week,” he said.

“The joint forum (of farmer unions) is repeatedly not taking us on board before deciding on the course of the agitation. Our association is not bound by the programmes decided by other unions. Besides continuation of agitations at Tikri border in Delhi, activists of the Ugrahan faction are holding protest marches at the district headquarters in Punjab,” he said.

Following the farmer unions’ call to protest outside offices of deputy commissioners, activists held dharnas in Sangrur and Barnala districts to oppose the farm laws. Women, under the banner of the BKU (Ugrahan), organised separate protests in both districts.

RELEASE OF ACTIVISTS A DIVIDING FACTOR

The Left-leaning Ugrahan group had observed Human Rights Day on December 10 in Delhi where the demand for the release of activists, including Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Varavara Rao, was raised.

The function was held at Tikri border, where hundreds of Ugrahan supporters have been camping since November 28.

The joint forum of farmers has disassociated itself from the demand of the release of the controversial activists.

However, the leadership of Ugrahan, which has a following in south Punjab, said all unions have the freedom to choose subjects to oppose or support.

“The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha was duly conveyed that the issue of release of detained activists should be included as a joint demand of farmers. Leaders of other unions may have overlooked the demand for reasons known to them but the BKU (Ugrahan) firmly believes that these activists should be freed immediately. It has been on our charter of demands,” said Kokrikalan.

NOT ON THE SAME PAGE SINCE THE BEGINNING

In three weeks, Ugrahan has differed on various occasions with 30 other farm unions of Punjab on the course of the agitation.

On November 26, all farmer unions, barring the BKU (Ugrahan), undertook the Dilli Chalo protest, forcibly entering Haryana from Punjab after breaking barricades. The next day, the Ugrahan faction blamed the joint forum for breaching the understanding reached by national farmer unions that activists will undertake indefinite dharnas wherever the authorities stop them.

On November 25, Ugrahan had criticised the two-month-long rail blockade by farmer organisations, saying it was wrong as it had hit the industrial and agricultural interests of Punjab.

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