Updated: February 4, 2021 2:57:58 am
As thousands of Haryana farmers rallied behind farmer unions protesting on Delhi’s borders against the new agriculture laws, a Kisan Mahapanchayat, attended by Uttar Pradesh BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to hold direct talks with the 40-member delegation of farmers.
This is the first time since talks with a three-member ministerial team broke down in January that farmers have sought direct talks with Modi and Shah to address their grievances.
–At a massive show of strength by khaps in Kandela, a village in Jind district which is around 120 km from the Tikri protest site near Delhi, the Mahapanchayat — another well-attended Mahapanchayat was held 15 km away at Khatkar toll plaza on the Jind-Patiala highway — passed a resolution that sought repeal of the three agriculture laws, a law on MSP, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report for profitable crop price, waiver of farm loans, and release of those arrested following the Republic Day incidents in Delhi.
The resolution was read out by khap leader Tek Ram Kandela who had joined the BJP ahead of the 2019 bypoll in Jind and had been made chairman of a board. “Instead of ministers, the Prime Minister himself should talk to the 40-member committee of farmers. Along with the Prime Minister, Amit Shah should also come for talks with farmer leaders,” he said.
Addressing the Kandela gathering — it was so huge that farmers queued up for 2 km to try and reach the venue — Tikait, who received a rousing welcome, allayed apprehensions that some farmer leaders would hold separate talks with the government. He said the 40-member committee would continue to negotiate on behalf of the farmers.
There was a commotion after the platform where the leaders had gathered collapsed. Women and youth raised slogans as Tikait told the gathering: “This battle of farmers is being fought strongly. The way it has received support from the khaps, this battle will be won. There will be no compromise with the honour of farmers. If anybody raises a finger at the farmer’s pagri, he will be taught a lesson.”
He urged farmers to remain peaceful during the protest. “Don’t sell your land … Bring soil and water from your fields and worship them in temples at homes. Your agitation will never fail. This is a revolution of the youths.”
Given that most protesters camping near Delhi are from Punjab, Tikait also had a unity message. “The Sikhs have sacrificed a lot to protect the Hindu dharma. We need their support today. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh will stand behind them… (Balbir Singh) Rajewal is our leader.” A farmer leader from Punjab, Rajewal also spoke at the Mahapanchayat, and so did Haryana BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni.
Underlining that no member of the committee negotiating with the government would be replaced, Tikait said: “The sarpanchs of the committee and its office will not be changed. They will take a final call on the matter. I am also one among them. Horses are not changed in a battle. The battle will be fought with the same horses. Our army is strong, we need your support.”
On the police fortification at dharna sites on Delhi’s borders, he said: “When a king is afraid, then he does fortification.” Referring to nails embedded on roads by Delhi Police near dharna sites, he said: “The people of the khap panchayat will take out these iron nails, and take them to the office of the khap panchayat. These will be shown for 400 years that this was done in Delhi. They (the authorities) want to stop (farmers) by embedding iron nails, but I will lie on these iron nails, and the masses will cross.”
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