Thousands of farmers from Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring states on Sunday gathered at Muzaffarnagar for a ‘Kisan mahapanchayat‘ aimed at ‘saving the country, just months ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
The event was organised by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) at the Government Inter College ground in Muzaffarnagar in protest against the Centre’s controversial farm laws.
“These meetings will be held across the country. We have to stop the country from getting sold. Farmers should be saved, the country should be saved; business, employees and youth should be saved–this is the aim of the rally,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said.
Popular names like Medha Patkar and Yogendra Yadav were seen on the dais. Yadav was given a yellow robe by Tikait, while the BKU leader was presented a mace at the event.
Farmers leave after attending a Kisan Mahapanchayat as part of their ongoing agitation against Centre’s farm reform laws, in Muzaffarnagar, on Sunday. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Varun Gandhi on Sunday described the protesting farmers as ‘our own flesh and blood’ and suggested that the government should re-engage with them in reaching common ground.
BKU media in-charge Dharmendra Malik said farmers belonging to 300 organisations spread across different states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, among others, have gathered for the event.
He said over 5,000 ‘langars‘ (food stalls), including some mobile stalls, have been set up for the participants.
The farmers, including women carrying flags of different organisations and wearing different coloured caps, were seen arriving at the venue in buses, cars and tractors.
A woman farmer leader from Karnataka addressed the gathering in Kannada language.
Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait with Swaraj Abhiyan Chief Yogendra Yadav during a Kisan Mahapanchayat. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo
One of the participants blew a ‘ransingha‘ (trumpet), the photograph of which was posted by the Kisan Ekta Morcha on Twitter.
‘In old times, when the fight was for honour and respect, this instrument (ransingha) was used. Today, a call has been given for war by all ‘kisan majdoor’ unions against the BJP’s ‘corporate raj’,’ it tweeted in Hindi.
Meanwhile, the Muzaffarnagar administration denied Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhry’s request to sprinkle flowers from a helicopter on the venue and participants of the mahapanchayat.
City magistrate Abhishek Singh rejected the request, saying it cannot be allowed due to security reasons.
The district authorities have posted police personnel at the residences of Union minister Sanjiv Balyan and BJP MLA Umesh Malik Muzaffarnagar, as a precautionary measure.
Farmers in large numbers attend Kisan Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo
The SKM on Saturday claimed that thousands of farmers from 15 states had reached Muzaffarnagar to participate in the mahapanchayat.
The umbrella body of 40 farmer unions spearheading the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s three farm laws said the event would prove that the agitation had the support of ‘all castes, religions, states, classes, small traders and other sections of society.
“The mahapanchayat of September 5 will make the Yogi-Modi governments realise the power of farmers, farm labourers and supporters of the farm movement. The Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat will be the biggest ever in the last nine months,” the SKM had said in a statement.
It also said that 100 medical camps had been set up for the farmers attending the mahapanchayat.
The farmers’ protest against the three contentious laws has been completed over nine months since they first arrived at Delhi borders.
They have been demanding the repeal of the laws, which they are afraid will do away with the MSP system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.