Farmer leader’s tearful appeal brings thousands on one platform

Naresh Tikait -- the brother of Rakesh Tikait who cried on camera on Thursday -- called a Mahapanchayat on Friday, which saw a huge crowd

Tikait
BKU's Rakesh Tikait was among those who attended the khap mahapanchayat

Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait’s tearful appeal to continue the protest at Ghazipur border on Thursday evening had the right impact on protesters as a huge crowd gathered for a farmers’ “Mahapanchayat” (mammoth meeting) at Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh on Friday (January 29).

The meeting was called by Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Naresh Tikait, Rakesh’s brother.

Shots taken from a drone camera showed crowds gathering at the venue, located about 150 kms from the Ghazipur border.

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The ‘Mahapanchayat’ was called in protest against the UP administration’s attempt to remove agitating farmers from UP Gate at Ghazipur, where they have been camping under the leadership of Rakesh Tikait since November 28 last year.

In a quick turn of events, when farmers’ protest at Ghazipur seemed to be ending on Thursday evening, a tearful Tikait’s assertion to continue with it triggered a fresh wave of arrivals of farmers at the protest site, despite the Ghaziabad administration’s ultimatum to vacate it.

After the Ghaziabad administration failed to evacuate protesting farmers from the Ghazipur border on Thursday evening, farmers and a group of people opposing the agitation clashed at the Singhu border on Friday (January 29) afternoon. The police resorted to lathicharge and tear gas shelling to control the mayhem even as farmers appealed for calm.

According to reports, a group of over 200 people arrived at the farmers’ protest site and started throwing stones at farmers. They also ransacked the tents that the farmers have set up.

It is unclear how the stone pelters managed to enter the site despite it being blocked by police personnel. The unidentified people demanded that the farmers vacate the protest site.

The police officials were injured in the incident. One of them suffered sword injuries. Two people have been detained.

Similar scenes occurred at Tikri, too, shortly after the incident at the Singhu border, and a group of people demanded the farmers vacate the site.

The police said that locals at Singhu staged a protest against farmers on Thursday (January 28), seeking an end to the agitation. The locals said the two-month-long agitation has made daily commute difficult for them.

The national capital’s border points at Tikri and Singhu continue to remain under heavy police force since the Republic Day violence.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, who has been at UP Gate in Gazipur since November 28 last year, has got support from Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh Chaudhary. “It is a matter of life and death for farmers, but do not worry. All have to stay together, united in this — this is Chaudhary Sahab’s (Ajit Singh’s) message,” the RLD vice-president said in a tweet in Hindi.

Also read: Crowds of farmers pour in as sobbing Tikait says ‘no surrender’

Thursday witnessed heavy deployment of policemen at the UP Gate site and a confrontation was building up even as frequent power cuts were witnessed in the evening at the protest site, where Rakesh Tikait is staying put with his supporters.

In a post-midnight review of situation, Ghaziabad District Magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey and Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani visited the protest where hundreds of security personnel in anti-riot gears were deployed since Thursday. However, excessive force was later withdrawn.

The farmers have alleged a conspiracy of creating violence to sabotage their movement of peaceful protests against the three controversial farm laws. So far, 11 rounds of talks have failed between farmers and the government.

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