Millennium Post

How Tikait's tears breathed life back into the movement

How Tikaits tears breathed life back into the movement

New Delhi/Ghaziabad: As the Uttar Pradesh government had its day on Thursday, issuing ultimatums to clear out farmers' protests across the state within 24 hours, the farmers had their night as tens of thousands kept pouring into the Ghazipur protest site — inspired by Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait's emotional speech following the show of force by law enforcement officials.

While the authorities had expected to clear the Ghazipur protest site by Thursday night given that there were only a few hundred protesters remaining there, Tikait's teary-eyed speech struck a chord with farmers across Western UP, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab and other states, moving them to drop everything and join their leader at the protest site.

By 10 pm on Thursday night, the additional riot police that was called to take Tikait into custody was withdrawn and authorities had confirmed that they would not take any action for the time being. By this time, thousands had reached Ghazipur in cars, motorcycles and tractors.

Prakash Singh, a farmer from Haryana's Palwal, who had driven to the protest site at around 2 am with a friend said, "We could not bare to see Tikait ji's tears. We decided that we had to show up here and see him once to show our support so we just drove here."

Desperately trying to figure his way out of the blockades, Singh asked for directions to reach Tikait from multiple people before getting up on the main stage to see him.

By this time, security forces had thinned out and farmers were arriving in hundreds from all over North India every hour. By Friday evening, tens of thousands of farmers, if not lakhs, had gathered at the Ghazipur protest site. In fact, many protesters, inspired by Tikait left the protest sites they were at to join him.

An elderly farmer from Uttarakhand's Uddham Singh Nagar, who had arrived at Ghazipur around 1 am, said he could not stand by and not come in support of his union leader. The farmer, who has been part of the union for over 30 years now said, "How could we not show our support? We have been lending support to the union since the time Rakesh Tikait's father, Mahender Tikait, was leading the union. We have struggled for our rights together. I had to come here."

Another farmer leader said that Tikait's emotional appeal had led to a groundswell of support which has resulted in the resurrection of the agitation. Farmers have alleged that it was the presence of BJP Loni MLA, Nand Kishor Gurjar at the UP Gate protest site along with his supporters that led to the outburst of Rakesh Tikait, who accused the former of intimidation.

Gyanendra Singh, superintendent of police (city), Ghaziabad said that a complaint has been received from farmer leaders where they have alleged Loni MLA Nand Kishor Gurjar and his supporters of allegedly creating ruckus at Ghazipur protest site on Thursday thus triggering tension at the time when everything was going right.

"Following the complaint, we have started investigating the matter. We are verifying the accusations and will take actions accordingly," said Singh.

By early Friday morning, the site was brimming with people with hardly any place to walk. "This government has scared us so much that we are forced to come out of our homes. I will die here now, no matter what," Rajendra Singh who hails from Haryana said. Satpal, meanwhile, had missed his son's birthday to be at the protest site, while others had left everything aside to join the protest.

And even as the protesters faced a water crisis, a group of people from Muzaffarnagar brought buckets of water and kept it in front of Tikait.

"They had cut our services so Tikait ji had said tanks full of water will come from our villages and here we are," one of the men who had brought water said. Looking at this, Tikait burst into tears folding his hands.

Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad also visited Takait in solidarity assuring him that they are together in this fight.

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