BKU leader Rakesh Tikait exhorted farmers to be ready for a nationwide agitation over their demands as a 75-hour sit-in by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha here seeking the removal of Union minister Ajay Mishra and a law on MSP entered the second day on Friday.
The protesting farmers have announced to take out a protest march to the office of the district magistrate on Saturday, the last day of the protest. This was announced in a joint statement issued by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders.
The SKM leaders will share at an appropriate moment the time, place and nature of the nationwide agitation, Tikait told the protesting farmers and called for strengthening the Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions.
”If the SKM gets weakened, governments will get the better of farmers,” Tikait stressed as representatives of the BKU-Chaduni faction, which is not a part of the SKM, reached the protest site to express solidarity with farmers.
Farmers from different states on Friday reached the dharna site–Rajapur Mandi Samiti in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh.
Lakhimpur Kheri is represented in the Lok Sabha by Mishra, the Union minister of state for home. His son Ashish Mishra is an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, which took place on October 3 last year. Eight people, including four farmers and a journalist, were killed in the violence.
The agitation has gained strength since its start on Thursday with prominent leaders, including SKM core committee member Dharshan Singh Pal, Swaraj India national convener Yogendra Yadav and social activist Medha Patekar addressing the dharna.
Prominent farmer leaders from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh also addressed the farmers.
Lashing out at Mishra, Tikait said, ”The entire country is well aware about the violence and it was also known to all as to who was the main instigator behind it.” ”It’s an irony that the minister is still holding his post,” he said and added the minister should be considered an accused in the violence case under IPC Section 120B, which relates to criminal conspiracy to commit an offence.
After this 75-hour sit-in, farmers must be ready for a larger agitation to press their demands, he said.
”Apart from sacking of MoS Home Ajay Kumar Mishra, there are other demands–release of innocent farmers lying in jails, MSP (minimum support price for crops) guarantee law, withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2022, payment of pending sugarcane dues and land rights to farmers,” Tikait said.
He also alleged that ”a conspiracy is being hatched in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand against the Sikh community to snatch their land and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha will never allow this to happen”.
Tikait along with a 10-member delegation of the SKM on Friday went to meet the four farmers lodged in jail in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. Tikait told reporters that the SKM will provide legal support to the farmers lodged in jail and their family members.
Addressing the dharna, SKM core committee member and prominent farmer leader from Punjab Darshan Singh Pal said, ”The administration was not initially ready to allow a 10-member delegation visit jail. However, it was the farmers’ unity that paved the way for the meeting with the arrested farmers in jail.” At the dharna venue, women activists from the Kisan Sangarsh Samiti from neighbouring Sitapur recited poems highlighting farmers’ struggle.
Volunteers served food to the protesting farmers from community kitchens.
The district authorities have made arrangements for water tankers and mobile toilets.
A heavy deployment of police personnel has been done to maintain law and order.
Earlier in the day, Tikait and other SKM core committee members held talks over various issues at a city gurudwara.
The SKM had organised protests on Delhi’s borders for more than a year against the Centre’s three farm laws, which were subsequently repealed.