By Shashank Suresh
At the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said the farmers’ organisations will debate tactics for continuing the struggle against the three controversial farm laws. Thousands of farmers from across the country have gathered at GIC ground in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, in response to the call of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella organisation of farmers’ unions leading protests against the Centre’s amended farm laws, which were introduced in November 2020.
SKM leaders claimed the Muzaffarnagar rally on Sunday will pave the way for ‘Mission Uttar Pradesh’ to continue discussing farmers’ issues. They estimated that approximately a lakh people would attend the event. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a Congress politician, came to Twitter to express her support for the farmers demonstrating at the Kisan Mahapanchayat.
At the Muzaffarnagar meeting, prominent social activists like Yogendra Yadav and Medha Patkar shared the dias alongside Rakesh Tikait and his brother Naresh Tikait, as well as khaps and farmer leaders. Similar Kisan Mahapanchayats would be organized in 18 divisions of Uttar Pradesh in the coming months, according to BKU state president Rajbeer Singh Jadaun. Around five lakh farmers are expected to attend, according to the BKU head.
Given the massive gathering, the local government prepared sophisticated security preparations. In addition to police forces from several districts, it has deployed six companies of the provincial armed constabulary (PAC) and two rapid response force (RAF) companies in and around the site. The district government rejected RLD leader Jayant Chowdhary’s proposal to drop flowers on farmers from a helicopter to prevent a stampede.
A group of farmers demonstrating in Karnal were baton-charged by Haryana police last week. After footage of Karnal sub-divisional magistrate Ayush Sinha demanding to “crush the heads” of many protestors who “crossed the barricades,” the event garnered criticism from several places. Several protestors were hurt, prompting SKM leaders to call for Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s resignation. Since then, the IAS official has been moved.
As a show of support for the farmers, several khap panchayats have organized community feasts for the protesting farmers. In contrast, local gurdwaras have contained langars, and Muslim community members have handed sweets to the participants in the morning. As he posted visuals from the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar, Jan Kisan Andolan’s national convenor termed it a “marcch towards the future,” calling it “history in the making.”