Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait addressed a farmers’ mahapanchayat, called by Kandela khap at Haryana’s Jind District, on Wednesday and asked people to support the farmers’ agitation against the government’s contentious farm laws.
Organisers claimed that more than 50,000 people attended the rally and TV footage showed huge numbers of protesters on tractors and trolleys arriving at the venue. At one point the stage from which farmer leaders, including Tikait, were addressing the assembly collapsed, though no serious injuries were reported.
The mahapanchayat adopted a five-point resolution: repeal of the three farm laws; constitutional guarantee of MSP; implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report; withdrawal of cases registered against farmers following the January 26 Red Fort violence, and their release. It also called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home minister Amit Shah to hold talks with the farmers’ unions.
Addressing the gathering, Tikait said the decision to resume dialogue with the government will be taken by the Samyukta Kisan Union, the 40-member committee of farm union leaders. “Just as you don’t change the sarpanch midway, we will not change the leadership in the middle of the agitation,” said Tikait.
Tikait was accompanied on stage by other farm union leaders such as Balbir Singh Rajewal of BKU (Rajewal) and Gurnam Singh Chaduni, president of BKU, Haryana.
Meanwhile, the protests have received international attention with climate activist Greta Thunberg, pop singer Rihanna, and US Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece highlighting the issue. The government said “vested interests” were “trying to enforce their agenda on these protests”.