Will discuss strategies to continue stir: Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait in UP
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said the farmers' groups would discuss strategies on continuing the agitation against the three contentious farm laws at the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar.
Thousands of farmers from across the country have gathered at GIC ground in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar, responding to the call of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers' unions leading the protests against the amended farm laws introduced by the Centre in November 2020.
SKM leaders said Sunday's gathering in Muzaffarnagar would set the stage for ‘Mission Uttar Pradesh’ to continue discussions on issues concerning the farmers. They said they were expecting around a lakh participants at the gathering.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra took to Twitter in support of the protesting farmers at the Kisan Mahapanchayat.
Prominent social activists such as Yogendra Yadav and Medha Patkar shared the dias at the Muzaffarnagar gathering with Rakesh Tikait and his brother Naresh Tikait as well as khaps and farmer leaders.
BKU state president Rajbeer Singh Jadaun said that similar Kisan Mahapanchayats would be organised in 18 divisions of Uttar Pradesh in months to come. The BKU leader is expecting around five lakh farmers to attend the gathering.
The district administration made elaborate security arrangements given the mega-gathering. It has deployed six companies of the provincial armed constabulary (PAC) and two companies of rapid action force (RAF) other than police forces from various districts in and around the venue.
The district administration turned down the request of Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chowdhary to shower flowers on farmers from a helicopter preempting any stampede-like situation.
Last week, Haryana police personnel baton-charged a group of protesting farmers in Karnal. The incident drew flak from several quarters after videos of Karnal sub-divisional magistrate Ayush Sinha ordering to “break the heads” of any protesters who "cross the barricades" went viral on social media.
Several protesters were injured in the incident, following which SKM leaders sought the resignation of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. The IAS officer has since been transferred.
Expressing their solidarity for the farmers different khap panchayats have arranged for community feasts for the protesting farmers even as local gurdwaras are organising langars while members of the Muslim community have distributed sweets among the participants in the morning.
National convenor of Jan Kisan Andolan Avik Saha called the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar a “history in the making” as he tweeted visiuals from the gathering, terming it a “march towards the future.”
Farmers from across the country have been seeking the repeal of three controversial agriculture-related laws — Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 — which they say will do away with minimum support price for their produce and expose them to exploitations by corporates, even as the Centre claim these laws will bring "reforms" in the agriculture sector through private-sector investment and create supply chains for the produce in the national and global markets.
Several rounds of talks between the farmer leaders and the government remained inconclusive in the past 10 months, prompting the BKU to move the Supreme Court against the three laws. After hearing the petitions, the apex court had in January stayed the implementation of the three laws, and set up a four-member panel to make recommendations on the legislations.