January 30, 2021 4:57:42 am
Protesters at the Ghazipur border Friday appeared infused with fresh energy as they vowed to “pay back” for tears shed by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait. In the crowd were not just farmers but hundreds of students from colleges and universities in Western Uttar Pradesh, moved to arrive at the protest site by Tikait’s emotional appeal on Thursday night.
Unlike the almost celebratory atmosphere at the Singhu protest site over the past two months — which too has become more sombre since the Republic Day violence — the crowd at Ghazipur on Friday was more on edge, seething at what they perceived as an insult to their leader.
Calls and messages were sent out on Thursday asking those from Western UP to boost the crowd at the thinning protest at Ghazipur, which the Uttar Pradesh administration had hoped to vacate by Thursday night. Videos of Tikait breaking down were shared widely by those at Ghazipur, and by Friday, cars full of students from the sugarcane belt had arrived, raising slogans of “Rakesh Tikait zindabad”.
Many promptly put up several posters in the area. One such poster of a youth club from Amroha UP read: “Tikait sahab ke ek ek aansu ka hisaab karke jayenge (we will settle scores for each tear shed by Tikait)”.
Shubham Rathi, state president of the UP Students’ Union, was among those who made urgent calls at night to mobilise students. “After the January 26 event, we had gone into depression, but we were determined to continue even then. Some people had started packing up though. But after Baba (Tikait) broke down, there was no chance of being depressed. It’s a fight till the end now — do or die. There’s no turning back. We will mobilise more and more students and youth in the coming days” he said.
“This BJP government has tried all the tactics to send us back. But they are now on the backfoot. They have to take the laws back. Most of the people who are here voted for them. If they don’t (take the laws back), they will face repercussions in state elections,” he said.
Harshit Dhariwal, a BA student of Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut, was among those who reached Ghazipur early Friday morning.
“I was watching the news yesterday and saw the video of him crying. The worry and sadness on his face moved me. I decided then itself that I will come to Delhi, but since it was foggy I was advised to wait till morning. I finally reached at 6 am. We are going to fight till the end — our leader was brought to tears, we can’t forgive this,” he said.
Dhariwal said many other students — “at least 170-180 from Muzaffarnagar, Dhanaura and Gajraula” — were already en route to Ghazipur.
Nitin Chaudhary, a B.Sc Chemistry student from Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Rohilkhand University, Bareilly, also arrived in the early hours of Friday. “People have been saying all kinds of wrong things about our leader, and he’s been responding, but what happened yesterday has given us more josh (vigour). He didn’t cry because he’s weak but because he couldn’t bear to stand what was being done to this peaceful movement. Now we will go back only after the laws are repealed,” he said.
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