INDIA. Delhi: After the violence and hoisting of the Nishan Sahib at Red Fort on India’s Republic Day, 26 January, it was expected curtains for the two months old Farmer Protest. Acting swiftly and after clearing smaller protest sites, the state government in Uttar Pradesh also served a notice to farmers at Ghazipur Border (Delhi-Uttar Pradesh) under Section 133 of Conditional Order for Removal of Nuisance (CrPC). Police forces moved in to clear the protest sites at Ghazipur and arrest Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait for his alleged involvement in inciting the farmers.
But Tikait, leader of BKU, who is spearheading the farmers’ protest against the recently passed agriculture laws, spoke to media at Ghazipur and said, “We will not vacate the site.” Tikait held ground and refused to buzz away and resisted arrest and did not allow forces to remove him or others from the protest site at Ghazipur border.
A number of other farmer unions had earlier announced their intentions to pull out of the ongoing protests and had returned back. But Tikait’s tearful and emotional appeal to his fellow farmer brothers on the evening of 28 January, and announcement that the protest will continue has changed the entire scene and may prove to be a major turning point in the farmers’ protest against the Centre’s farm laws. “The government will destroy farmers, BJP’s goons will come and attack them with the police,” said Tikait, in tears.
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Tikait’s tears forced security forces to backtrack and are being looked on as a spark for the revival of the farmers’ protest, which was facing flak after the violence that took place during the tractor rally. For the farmer unions, this has come as a blessing and diluted some of the attacks they were facing after the 26 January violence. The re-mobilisation from Haryana, Punjab, and West UP is also expected to strengthen the protest.
The biggest advantage that Tikait has managed to garner from his tears is the open support of political parties who till now were supporting the protests from behind, like Congress, and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh has also announced support to the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).
His tears are seen to be coming from a genuine sense of helplessness and this has made him emerge as one of the strongest voices in the entire movement against the Centre’s farm laws. His party, BKU has now called for a Mahapanchayat in Tikait’s home district of Muzaffarnagar in West UP.
Tikait, the current chief of BKU is a sensation on the internet right now; almost everyone is speaking in his favour; even a few members of the ruling party in the govt. Born on 4 June 1969, and son of the earlier chief of BKU Mahendra Singh Tikait, he has earlier served in Delhi Police also. He has been arrested on 44 occasions earlier on several charges while fighting for farmer’s rights for the last three decades and has contested for UP assembly elections and also for Parliament elections. Father of two daughters, Tikait is a graduate from Meerut University.
He, along with his elder brother, has been camping at the UP Gate (Ghazipur border) for two months now demanding a rollback of the contentious farm laws brought by the Centre in September last year.