The Kisan Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday turned out to be a massive show of strength of farmer unity as over 300 farmer unions from 15 states participated under the aegis of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) and reiterated their resolve to continue with the protest.
The farmers unanimously gave a call for complete Bharat Bandh on September 27 in protest against the three contentious farm laws.
“They (the Centre) said only a handful of farmers are protesting. Let them see what a handful this is today. Let us raise our voices so it reaches the ears of those sitting in Parliament,” the speakers said.
The farmer leaders said that the Mahapanchayat will also prove that the agitation has the support of ‘all castes, religions, states, classes, small traders and all sections of the society’.
The SKM said in a statement, “The Mahapanchayat today will make the Modi and Yogi 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.”
Farmer leaders made it amply clear that they would campaign against the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly elections in 2022 if the governments did not accept their demands. They even threatened to continue their agitation till 2024 when Lok Sabha elections are due.
They further said that efforts would now be made to strengthen the movement and ensure that farmers have their own government — one that caters to their interests.
Rakesh Tikait, BKU spokesperson, told reporters, “This is the strength of farmers and how long will the governments continue to deny us our rights. The farmers have come from several states on their own and they are not here for any political party.”
Tikait said India was now being put up for sale and national assets were being sold out to the private sector.
He said the next meeting would be held in Lucknow in support of the cane farmers.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal had a marked political presence at the Mahapanchayat.
The district administration had denied permission to the RLD to shower flower petals on the participants.
Rashtriya Lok Dal president Jayant Chaudhary 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?” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, 32 farmer unions from Punjab demanded that the state government withdraw cases against protesters by September 8. If the cases are not withdrawn, the farmers will hold a bigger protest, the unions said.
The Mahapanchayat evoked a massive response from farmers and their supporters and the sprawling GIC ground was packed to capacity since morning and large crowds were seen on the roads leading to the venue.
What was significant in Sunday’s Mahapanchayat was the remarkably large presence of women, many of whom addressed for the gathering.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at the borders of Delhi for the past nine months seeking the repeal of the three contentious farm laws which they apprehend will do away with the MSP system.
The Centre has so far held over 10 rounds of talks with the farmer unions to allay their concerns with no major breakthrough. IANS