Gathering in thousands at the ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday, protesting farmers slammed the government for “selling the country to corporates” and said they are fighting to “save the nation”.
The event was organised by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) at the Government Inter College ground in Muzaffarnagar in protest against the Centre’s three controversial farm laws.
The SKM also issued the call for a Bharat Bandh on September 27 to press for their demands. The protesters had earlier said that a countrywide strike would be held on September 25.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said, “These meetings will be held across the country. We have to stop the country from getting sold. Farmers should be saved, the country should be saved; business, employees and youth should be saved — this is the aim of the rally.”
He added, “The Centre ended talks on January 22. They did not even express grief over the deaths of more than 600 farm protesters over the past nine months. Who are these people selling the country? We need to identify them. You (Centre) have cheated the people of the country. They are selling our farmlands, highways, power, LIC, banks and corporate houses like Adani and Ambani are the buyers. Even the FCI godowns and ports are being sold. Under this govt, the entire country is up for sale.”
Coming down hard on the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government, the BKU spokesperson said protests will only escalate in the coming days.
“The mills owe over Rs 12,000 crore to sugarcane farmers. The Yogi government has not increased the SAP even by a rupee. The movement started over the demand to repeal three black laws and MSP. Fasalon ke daam nahi toh vote nahi. People of UP will not tolerate Shah, Modi and Yogi. Is Yogi government so weak that it cannot raise the price of crops by even one rupee? Don’t forget the night of January 28. That night brought together the people of the country. If we have governments like this, there will be riots. During (Mahendar) Tikait saheb’s time, this land used to witness the slogan of allah hu akbar, har har Mahadev. Ye todne ki baat karte hai, hum jodne ki baat karte hai.”
Popular names like Medha Patkar and Yogendra Yadav were present on the dais on Sunday. Yadav was given a yellow robe by Tikait, while the BKU leader was presented a mace at the event.
Yadav said, “For the last 100 days, government people were saying that the protest was losing steam. This ground, this city is not able to accommodate everyone, such is the scale of gathering. Farmers had debt worth crores in UP… This is the same Muzaffarnagar where rivers of blood were drawn between Hindus and Muslims. They played politics with burning houses. Someone who makes communities fight cannot be the true son of the nation.”
He added, “The price of sugarcane has not been increased. Instead of giving fair prices for crops, the UP government is fooling the farmers. They said we will buy each food crop grain. Modi government said we will get crop insurance. The govt benefitted of Rs 2,500 crore in the name of insurance. It is farmers’ money,” he added.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of BKU (Rajewal), also slammed the government saying it was only fulfilling “corporate interests”.
“This has become a government by the people for the corporates. Politicians get elected so that policies and laws are made for corporates to live comfortably…The farmers have been hurt by the remarks made against them. Never had they been abused so much. They will never forgive BJP.”
BKU media in-charge Dharmendra Malik said farmers belonging to 300 organisations spread across different states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, among others, have gathered for the event.
He said over 5,000 ‘langars’ (food stalls), including some mobile stalls, have been set up for the participants.
The farmers, including women carrying flags of different organisations and wearing different coloured caps, were seen arriving at the venue in buses, cars and tractors.
A woman farmer leader from Karnataka addressed the gathering in Kannada.
One of the participants blew a ‘ransingha’ (trumpet), the photograph of which was posted by the Kisan Ekta Morcha on Twitter.
“In old times, when the fight was for honour and respect, this instrument (ransingha) was used. Today, a call has been given for war by all ‘kisan majdoor’ unions against the BJP’s ‘corporate raj’,” it tweeted in Hindi.
The Muzaffarnagar administration denied Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhry’s request to sprinkle flowers from a helicopter on the venue and participants of the mahapanchayat.
Meanwhile, BJP MP Varun Gandhi on Sunday described the protesting farmers as “our own flesh and blood” and suggested that the government should re-engage with them in reaching common ground.
(With ENS & PTI inputs)