5,000 farmers gather to support Rakesh Tikait after he wept on national TV
- In Sisauli, BKU's Muzaffarnagar district chief said it was indeed painful for farmers to watch Rakesh Tikait breaking down in front of TV cameras
Over 5,000 farmers gathered in support of Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait in Muzaffarnagar’s Sisauli village on Thursday evening after he burst into tears in front of television cameras, accusing the BJP of hatching a conspiracy against him, the union’s Muzaffarnagar district chief Dheeraj Latiyan said.
Rakesh Tikait is among the farmer leaders protesting against the three farm laws, who have been booked for the violence during the tractor parade in Delhi on Republic Day. Sisauli, a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, is the headquarters of BKU and the native village of Rakesh Tikait and his brother Naresh Tikait, who heads the union.
BKU, which is demanding the withdrawal of the cases against farmer leaders, has now decided to hold a mahapanchayat at the government inter college ground in Muzaffarnagar, on Friday, to decide the strategy of the movement going forward, Latiyan said.
About 50 kilometres from Sisauli, farmers held a panchayat at Baraut in Baghpat district of western UP earlier in the day on Thursday and constituted a nine-member committee to take a decision about the ongoing farmers’ movement. They claimed that the police used force to chase away farmers who were sleeping at a protest site on Wednesday night. The police have denied the allegations of a crackdown.
The farmers' protest had been continuing on the Delhi-Saharanpur highway in Baghpat since December 17 last against the Centre's three contentious agriculture reform laws.
The protesters alleged that police personnel entered their tents late on Wednesday night and resorted to a lathi-charge on the sleeping farmers. The police, however, claimed that the matter was resolved through deliberations and the protesting farmers were sent home on Wednesday night.
Chaudhary Brijpal Singh, thambedar (local chief) of the Desh khap, who was leading the indefinite sit-in on the Delhi-Saharanpur highway since December 17, claimed that at least 15 farmers sustained injuries in the lathi-charge and five farmers were missing.
He alleged the police lathi-charged even elderly farmers who were sleeping and took away their belongings. He said the committee formed at the panchayat would take a decision after consulting the people of the area.
In a video, additional district magistrate (Baghpat) Amit Kumar said, “We removed farmers on the request of NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) which wanted to restart the work on the road that was hampered due to the farmers’ agitation.”
He further claimed that there were four or five farmers at the protest site at the time and they were sent home.
The office of the superintendent of police (SP) in Baghpat said a case against farmers was registered on the complaint of NHAI officials. Abhishek Kumar, public relations officer to the SP, said no farmer was arrested.
However, Chaudhary Brijpal Singh claimed that he was taken to a police station and released from custody late in the night.
Refuting the charge, circle officer Alok Singh said police did not resort to lathi-charge on the protesters. Whatever happened was in agreement with those present there, he said, adding that the protesting farmers returned home peacefully.
In Sisauli, BKU's Muzaffarnagar district chief said it was indeed painful for farmers to watch Rakesh Tikait breaking down in front of TV cameras.
Latiyan said farmers were carrying Ransingha (a traditional instrument that is blown before a march) and shouted slogans supporting the BKU and the Tikait brothers. He claimed that thousands of farmers would gather at Friday’s mahapanchayat.
In a statement, Rakesh Tikait has blamed BJP for hatching a conspiracy to disgrace the farmers’ movement.
Earlier in the day, another meeting was held at Sisauli under the leadership of BKU chief Naresh Tikait. At that meeting, the situation after the Delhi violence on Republic Day and cases registered against farmer leaders were discussed.
BKU had called for a symbolic protest at the police stations in Muzaffarnagar against the cases lodged against farmer leaders. Latiyan said a memorandum was given at the Muzaffarnagar tehsil and at the Chartgawal, Bhopa and Purkazi police stations. Security was beefed up at all the police stations of the Muzaffarnagar district.