A sea of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh filled the GIC Grounds in Muzaffarnagar as a ‘mahapanchayat’ called by the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) began on Friday. All the roads leading to the ground were choked by tractors from Shamli, Baghpat and Saharanpur and other neighbouring districts, putting the traffic diversions in disarray.
The ‘mahapanchayat’ has been called by BKU president Naresh Tikait in the wake of dramatic incidents that unfolded at the Ghazipur protest site on Thursday night, where his younger brother and national spokesperson of the BKU Rakesh Tikait broke into an emotional outburst. The Tikaits hail from the Sisauli village of Muzaffarnagar and lead the Balyan khap spread over 80 odd villages.
Talking to reporters, Mr. Naresh said the ‘mahapanchayat’ had been called because the dignity of farmers could not be compromised. Disassociating the BKU from the incidents at Red Fort on Republic Day, he said that they could break barricades, do stunts with tractors but could not fiddle with the national symbols. He was not against any government, but was against policies of the government. He said they could not challenge the Prime Minister but would advise him to pick minds of people working at the grass roots.
The protest at the Ghazipur border would continue. “It is a decision taken by the Kisan Sangharsh coordination committee and we abide by it.”
In the morning, proclamations were made in villages asking farmers to join the ‘mahapanchayat’. Local ‘Khaps’ also issued appeals to join the protest.