- The meeting was attended by Rakesh Tikait and other farmer leaders
- The farmers have decided to continue with such protests across UP
- The farmers also plan to hold an all-India strike on September 27
Farmers protesting against the Centre's farm laws held a mega meeting at Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, today, where they reiterated their resolve to continue with the protest and campaign against the BJP in the coming state elections. "They (the Centre) said only a handful of farmers are protesting. Let them see how few are protesting. Let us raise our voices so it reaches the ears of those sitting in parliament," speaker after speaker declared from the dais.
Around 8,000 security men have been deployed to maintain law and order at the gathering, which is being attended by Rakesh Tikait and other farm leaders. The historic GIC ground, where the meet is being held – venue for earlier farmer meetings by iconic farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait -- is jam-packed.
"If the government understands something, it will be good. Such meetings will be held across the country. We need to save the country from being sold... Farmers, workers and young people should be allowed to live," Rakesh Tikait – Mahendra Singh Tikait's son -- told thousands of cheering farmers.
The farmers have decided to continue with such protests across the state, where they will campaign against the ruling Yogi Adiyanath government ahead of next year's elections. They plan to take their message to every village of the state.
The farmers plan to hold the next mahapanchayat in Karnal on September 7. Over the next six months, they plan to hold 17 mega meetings in cities including Lucknow, Varanasi and Gorakhpur. They also plan to hold an all-India strike on September 27.
The gathering is also a mark of protest against the atrocities by the police they faced in Haryana's Karnal on August 28. Around 10 people were injured after the state police lathi-charged a group of farmers who had stopped traffic on a highway while heading for Karnal to protest against a BJP meeting attended by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, state BJP chief Om Prakash Dhankar and other senior leaders. One person had died, which the police later said was a case of heart attack.
A video that later emerged, showing the Sub Divisional Magistrate directing the police "crack the heads"of farmers, had fanned the outrage. Thirty-two farmer unions from Punjab have demanded that the state government withdraw cases against protestors by September 8. If the cases are not withdrawn, the farmers will hold a bigger protest, the unions have said.
The BJP's Varun Gandhi tweeted about today's event, asking that the government needs to understand the "pain" of farmers.
"Lakhs of farmers have gathered in protest today, in Muzaffarnagar. They are our own flesh and blood. We need to start re-engaging with them in a respectful manner: understand their pain, their point of view and work with them in reaching common ground," his tweet read..
Lakhs of farmers have gathered in protest today, in Muzaffarnagar. They are our own flesh and blood. We need to start re-engaging with them in a respectful manner: understand their pain, their point of view and work with them in reaching common ground. pic.twitter.com/ZIgg1CGZLn— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) September 5, 2021
Rashtriya Lok Dal's Jayant Chaudhary, who is attending the meeting, tweeted that the administration did not give permission to shower flower petals from a helicopter over the gathering.
"Wearing a lot of garlands. The people have given me a lot of love and respect. We wanted to salute and welcome the people by showering flowers on them. DM, ADG, City Magistrate, Principal Secretary. CM -- everyone was informed, but they are not giving permission! What is the danger to the government with respect to farmers?" read a rough translation of his Hindi tweet.
Farmers from Hapur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh and other areas are attending the meet, which, the oroganisers said is the largest in the nine months since the protest started.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha -- the umbrella body of 40 farmer unions spearheading the farmers'' agitation -- said the "mahapanchayat" will prove that the agitation has the support of "all castes, religions, states, classes, small traders and all sections of the society".
"The ''mahapanchayat'' of September 5 will make the Yogi-Modi governments realize the power of farmers, farm labourers, and supporters of the farm movement, the farmers' union said.