February 1, 2021 1:28:04 am
Members of several khaps participated in a mahapanchayat in Baghpat district on Sunday to extend support to the farmers’ agitation against three agricultural laws pushed through Parliament by the Centre last September. The khaps urged farmers to join the protests going on at Ghazipur and Singhu near the Delhi border.
Thousands of farmers from Baghpat and the neighbouring districts of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli started pouring in at the mahapanchayat venue at the Baraut tehsil ground since morning, arriving in tractor-trollies adorned with the Tricolour and flags of farmers’ unions.
While the meeting was scheduled to begin at 12 pm, it started around 1.30 pm with about 5,000 farmers in attendance.
This was the third mahapanchayat in west Uttar Pradesh in as many days after the one held in Muzaffarnagar on Friday, followed by Mathura on Saturday.
“The Ghazipur protest would have ended that day if it were not for Rakesh Tikait. The cause of the farmers would have been harmed forever had the protest ended. This is a historic event and it will continue. Initially, Ghazipur was considered after Singhu and Tikri. But now, all eyes are on Ghazipur. It is very important and we will extend all possible support,” said a local leader.
Leaders of several khaps, including Desh Khap, Thamba khap, Chauhan Khap, Panwar Khap, Dhankar Khap, Malik Khap, Rathi Khap and Dhama Khap, were present at the meeting, said Chaudhary Brijpal Singh of Desh Khap.
The attendees raised the slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” and shouted slogans against the BJP and the Centre.
“Farmers are going through a critical time and people, money and food are needed at the Ghazipur border. I request you all to support the protest and move towards Ghazipur,” said Surendra Chaudhary of Desh Khap.
Leaders from the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) were also present at the meeting. Several former MLAs such as Ajay Tomar and Gajendra Veerpal Rathi also attended the mahapanchayat, said farmer Chaudhary Surendra Singh of the Desh Khap.
At the meeting, speakers laid into the district administration for removing farmers staging a protest on the Delhi-Saharanpur Highway since December 19. The action was taken on January 27, a day after the violence in Delhi during a tractor rally. They also claimed that the administration took away their belongings.
Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Amit Kumar then arrived at the meeting and addressed the protesters. He expressed regret if anyone’s sentiments were hurt.
“We are also sons of farmers and you are all farmers. It is not our intention to hurt or cause you harm. We are with you. If you bring something to our notice we will try and get it resolved. And we will do it as soon as possible. If you have a grievance at the government level, we will do our best to communicate it to them. Our purpose is to help people and farmers need to be helped,” he said.
Addressing the gathering, Chaudhary Brijpal Singh said, “This is not a movement of any particular organisation but of all farmers of India. I told farmers that support of everyone is needed. I asked them to go Ghazipur and Singhu borders, where protests are going on.”
He added, “At the mahapanchayat, it was also discussed that the district administration misbehaved with elderly farmers protesting in Baghpat. Protesters said the police took away their belongings. A district official announced that all belongings would be returned, and also announced that no action would be taken against any farmer. If the official reneges on his word, we will once again start our protest.”
ADM Amit Kumar told The Indian Express, “The protest ended peacefully at around 5 pm. I denied the allegation that the police misbehaved with protesters while removing them. I told them I regret if anyone’s feelings got hurt. I promised to return the belongings they left at the protest site.”