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Farmers to showcase their strength at Muzaffarnagar

BKU workers in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday Special Arrangement  

A sea of farmers is expected in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday to participate in the mahapanchayat called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, in a show of strength against the three contentious farm laws.

“For long, the government and a section of media have been describing us as mutthi bhar kisan [a handful of farmers]. We want to prove them wrong,” said Rajveer Singh, State vice-president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, the organisation that is leading the charge in western Uttar Pradesh. He said the mahapanchayat would remain apolitical but it would send a strong message against the anti-farmer policies of the current dispensation.

‘Bid to distract farmers’

The last-minute attempt of the State government to reach out to farmers with the promise of increasing sugarcane prices doesn’t seem to be working. “It is a lollipop that has come too late in the day,” said Gaurav Tomar of Desh Khap that has 84 villages in Baghpat and surrounding districts. “It is an attempt to distract the farmers of western Uttar Pradesh from the core issue of three farm laws,” said Mr. Tomar.

Shokhendra Chaudhary of Battisa Khap in Shamli said on Friday that the local sugar mill had put the cane arrears of February this year in farmers’ account. “This government has suddenly woken up to our demands after four years. A word is being spread that cases of stubble burning would be taken back but farmers won’t forget the humiliation so easily,” he said.

Ghulam Jaula, a contemporary of Mahendra Singh Tikait, who leads the Muslim section of farmers in the region, said the wounds of Muzaffarnagar riots had been forgotten. “Every village is sending a bus. Around 500 temporary dhabas are working to feed the participants. We are spending our money to make this mahapanchayat happen so that the deaf and dumb government wakes up to our demands.”

Rasthriya Lok Dal and Samajwadi Party have declared support to the meeting. RLD president Jayant Chaudhary is expected to shower flower petals from a helicopter but sources in the administration said the permission was cancelled. “As he was not supposed to land in Muzaffarnagar, he was asked to approach the Air Traffic Control,” said a senior official.

‘Misguiding farmers’

Surendra Singh Ramala, BJP MLA from Chhaprauli, said political parties which had lost their footing in the region were misguiding farmers against the government. “They call the mahapanchayat apolitical but everybody knows that RLD workers are working overtime to make up the numbers,” he said.

On the State government suddenly waking up to the demands, Mr. Ramala said both the Central and State governments were ready for the talks. “But Rakesh Tikait and the RLD see a political opportunity in keeping the protests alive,” he added.

The cane prices, Mr. Ramala said, could not be raised earlier because, during the pandemic, the demand for sugar plummeted. In the current season. “I feel there will be substantial rise soon,” he added.

Keeping the inclement weather in mind, a waterproof tent with the capacity to make 200 farmer leaders underneath has been erected at the Government Inter College ground.

Tight security

The mahapanchayat will be held under the gaze of 250 CCTV cameras and drones. Six companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary and two companies of the Rapid Action Force have been deployed to support the local police. “Circle officers and magistrates would man the entry and exit gates to the city. The capacity of the GIC ground is 40,000. Some might spill on to the roads,” said Amit Kumar, Additional District Magistrate (City), adding the administration is used to holding such mahapanchayats. “We always know how many tractors and buses we could allow to enter the city and farmers respect the administration’s decision.” Apart from two existing exit points, he said, two more have been created to disperse the crowd for the ground. “Mobile medical vans, ambulances, mobile toilets, and fire tenders have been pressed into service,” said Mr. Kumar.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 12:45:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/farmers-to-showcase-their-strength-at-muzaffarnagar/article36297681.ece

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