Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Wednesday warned the government that it would find it difficult to stay in power if the three agricultural laws were not repealed, PTI reported. Tikait made the comment at a “mahapanchayat” or meeting in Haryana’s Jind district, which is considered to be the heartland of Jat politics in the state.
“We have so far talked about bill wapsi [repeal of the farm laws],” Tikait said at the meeting in the district’s Kandela village. “The government should listen carefully. What will you do if the youth call for gaddi wapsi [removal from power]?”
Tikait also criticised the government for the crackdown on the farmers’ protest after the violence during the Republic Day tractor rally. He referred to the heavy barricading at Delhi’s border points, saying, “When the king is scared, he secures the fortress.”
The meeting was interrupted shortly as the stage on which the farmer leaders stood collapsed. Tikait urged people not to panic during it.
Tikait has been credited with reinvigorating the farmers protest. Last week, as the farmers camping at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border at Ghazipur were given an ultimatum to clear the site, Tikait tearfully declared that he would not budge. His emotional message resonated with the protestors, who made an about-turn to return to the site in huge numbers.
BKU leaders leaders Gurnam Singh Chaduni, Balbir Singh Rajewal and more than 50 khap leaders also attended the “mahapanchayat”. Khaps are traditional caste organisations in Haryana.
Farmer leaders passed five resolutions at the meeting – to put pressure on the government to repeal the laws, demand a legal guarantee for minimum support price, ask for the implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, demand the release of farmers arrested for the tractor rally violence and waiver of loans.
The government has clamped down on the farmers’ protest in the aftermath of the violence during the Republic Day tractor rally. The Delhi Police has also tried block access to farmers’ protest sites at the borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by digging ditches, driving nails into roads and topping concrete barricades with razor wire.
Heavy security has been deployed at the three protest sites – Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also ordered the shutdown of internet services in the three border areas since Saturday.
Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the barricading and internet restrictions near protest sites were law and order matters related to local administrations, PTI reported.
“They [the farmers] should talk to the police commissioner,” Tomar said in response to a question about farmers alleging that they were being harassed by the administration. “I don’t want to comment on the law and order issue. That’s not my job.”
The agriculture minister added that the Centre was not holding any informal talks with the farmers. “We will inform when formal talks will be held,” he added.
Several Opposition leaders have criticised the Centre for its crackdown on the peaceful protests. The action against peaceful protestors has even triggered international outrage.
Farmers have been camping at Delhi’s border points for over two months. They fear that the government’s move to introduce market reforms will leave them at the mercy of corporations. The protestors remain firm on their demand for the repeal of the farming laws.