Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for his alleged inflammatory speech on September 7 in Muzaffarnagar, says he did not convene any mahapanchayat.

“I attended a panchayat called by another group that day and made no provocative speech. Let them see the CD. And now I am told that I have been named in an FIR. I am not guilty but if they feel I should surrender, I will, along with the others,” he said at a press conference here on Saturday.

Seeking a high-level inquiry into the communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli that left over 45 people dead, he said the district officials had no power to act and stop the violence.

“Authorities should first find out who were responsible for the incidents of August 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 [The clashes first broke out in Kawal area on August 27] and then come to September 7. Why is the administration starting from the wrong end? The government is under pressure to arrest people but it should look at facts without bias. The local administration was just not allowed to function.”

Flanked by Ajmer Singh Lakhowal of the Punjab BKU and its convener Yudhvir Singh, Mr. Tikait said his first priority was to bring peace to the riot-affected districts. “Time will heal the wounds and both communities will come together again,” he said.

Already, Mr. Tikait has set up committees of people from both communities to jointly safeguard their villages and instil confidence in residents. He successfully persuaded Muslim families from his ancestral Sisauli village from migrating to relief camps.

Meanwhile, elders in the area and other farmer leaders and organisations are engaged in back-channel diplomacy to ensure peace.

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