BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait with others during Kisan mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday. (PTI)
THOUSANDS of farmers from Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring States on Sunday gathered at Muzaffarnagar for a ‘Kisan mahapanchayat’ aimed at “saving the country”, just months ahead of the crucial UP Assembly polls. The event was organised by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) at the Government Inter College ground in Muzaffarnagar in protest against the Centre’s controversial farm laws. “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,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said. Popular names like Medha Patkar and Yogendra Yadav were seen on the dais.
Yadav was given a yellow robe by Tikait, while the BKU leader was presented a mace at the event. 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. 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 language. 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.