Tikait plays peacemaker between govt, irate farmers

Soon after BKU leader Rakesh Tikait announced his plans to meet victim famalies on October 3, the crisis managers of Yogi’s team roped him into defuse the volatile situation as more than 25,000 farmers had reached the spot to protest the unprovoked killing of farmers. A report by Mudit Mathur

Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait justifies his support to Uttar Pradesh government to bail it out from extremely tense and turmoil situation unleashed by son of union minister of state for Home Affairs after executing the gory carnage of farmers which could result in deep political crisis in the state besides leading to retaliatory bloodbath.

Tikait remarked, “We don’t want to change our focus on Delhi and main issues of farmers are withdrawal of three farm laws and legal status to minimum support price of their produce.” His opponents not convinced about his apolitical peace broker role for BJP government as they cite his past role supporting BJP in 2017 elections. But nobody could doubt his emergence as undisputed leader of farmers across the state.

Soon after his announcement to go immediately to meet victim families in the afternoon of October 3, the crisis managers of the Yogi Adityanath team roped him in for a dialogue to defuse the situation as more than 25,000 farmers had reached on the spot protesting the unprovoked killings of peacefully demonstrating farmers. The gravity of the situation compelled chief minister Yogi Adityanath to comeback immediately to state capital cancelling all his outstation appointments.

Chief Minister Yogi gave go ahead signal constituting high-level team with its action plan to rope in Rakesh Tikait for mediation to negotiate a peace deal to perform last rites of slayed farmers. Team headed by Additional chief secretary Agriculture Devesh Chaturvedi, ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar, Divisional Commissioner Ranjan Kumar, ADG Lucknow S N Sabat, who had served as SSP, Muzaffarnagar and IG Police Lakshmi Singh reached before Tikait’s arrival on the spot after 1.30 a.m. in the night after 10- hour long journey.

The state government did not allow political leaders like Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, Rajasthan Deputy CM Sachin Pilot, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Pramod Krishnam, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra and many others to go to the crime scene and meet the families of the victims. They were either detained or stopped on their way to Lakhimpur but the BKU leader was given safe green passage on the barricaded roads to reach on the spot.

There were many tense moments as the mob continued to mount around the site. Any small incident could trigger a volatile clash between angry farmers — many carried arms including swords, sticks and licensed guns. Huge contingent of police, RAF and SSB deployed at the spot.

Significantly, ADG Prashant Kumar was earlier posted in Meerut Zone and had cordial relations with Tikait, who emerged as a trouble-shooter for the government. It became handy for him to resolve escalating tricky situation where passion against the BJP government were running high. He addressed the farmers with Tikait in Tikunia resolving most sensitive situation.

The bodies of farmers could be sent for post-mortems only after much persuasion and agreement with the government and farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait who agreed to compensation of Rs 40 lakh and farmers’ insurance of Rs 5 lakh each of the four farmers and the government agreed to give Rs 10 lakh each to those injured. His demand for a judicial committee headed by a senior judge of the High Court to probe the incident and besides a fair and swift investigation with registration of FIR under relevant sections was also met with.

Speaking to reporters, Tikait said, “We have been assured that the accused will be arrested within seven days and we are content for now and postpone our protests.” “Only one demand could not be met is dismissal of the minister that falls in the domain of prime minister,” he added. Conspicuously, no words came from the mouth of prime minister over the incident.

Putting all murmurs to the rest Sanyukt Kisan Morcha Dr Darshan Pal said Rakesh Tikait took all the decisions keeping SKM leaders into confidence and we have no differences among the farmers leaders over the settlement reached in Lakhimpur matter.

Dissenting Varun, mother Maneka  sacked from  BJP’s Panel

Exposing truth in public domain through series of tweets and letters by BJP MP Varun Gandhi addressed to chief minister Yogi Adityanath in support of agitating farmers demand did not go well with the top leadership of ruling BJP. Both mother Maneka Gandhi and son were shown the doors ousting them in recently constituted BJP’s 80-member national executive, a top decision-making body due to his outspoken attitude.

Varun who was once seen as a potential chief ministerial candidate for the party in the state, cautioned against the attempt to change narratives by turning Lakhimpur Kheri incident into ‘Hindu vs Sikh battle’ which could lead to dangerous repercussions. In a tweet on Sunday termed it “an immoral and false narrative.”

Varun tweeted, “An attempt to turn #LakhimpurKheri into a Hindu vs Sikh battle is being made. Not only is this an immoral and false narrative, it is dangerous to create these fault-lines and reopen wounds that have taken a generation to heal. We must not put petty political gains above national unity”.

Gandhi earlier spoke out on the violence that took place in Lakhimpur Kheri on 4 October wherein he posted a video clip on his twitter handle showing how convoy of three SUVs had mowed down protesting farmers in the district from the behind, killing four and triggering violence that led to the death of four more people.

In his tweet, he wrote,” This video of deliberately mowing down the farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri will shake anybody’s soul. Police must take cognizance of this video by identifying and arresting the owners of these vehicles, people sitting in it and other people who are perpetrated the crime.”

On 7 October, Gandhi had posted a video from Lakhimpur Kheri that had gone viral on Twitter and said, “The video is crystal clear. Protestors cannot be silenced through murder. There has to be accountability for the innocent blood of farmers that has been spilled and justice must be delivered before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the minds of every farmer.”

Varun Gandhi’s support to farmers was based on ground compulsions too as his electorate of adjoining Pilibhit district is largely Sikh population. He is one of the rare BJP MPs who dared to be vocal to lend his support to the farmers not only in Lakhimpur Kheri, but also supporting their demand to increase sugarcane minimum support prices. He wrote a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath urging him to increase the sugarcane price to Rs 400 per quintal.

Varun had termed protesting farmers gathered in Muzzaffarnagar for a mahapanchyat as “our own flesh and blood” and stressed the need to “understand their pain” and re-engage dialogue with them. Some of the party leaders also attributed his outburst over his exclusion in the union cabinet in July.

Journalist’s family blames Monu for carnage

The family of local journalist of a news channel accused Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish and his aides of murdering him in the Kheri violence on Sunday. His brother said there’s increasing pressure on them to blame the farmers instead.

 “My father and I have given the same statement to everyone — that he was crushed by a vehicle in the Union minister’s (Ajay Mishra Teni) convoy and shot at. But many journalists are now trying to cross-question us to make us say that the farmers beat him to death. That did not happen,” Raman’s brother Pawan Kashyap asserted.

 BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait had earlier said that Kashyap would be counted among the farmer “martyrs.” “My brother was a journalist but we are a family of farmers. What Tikait said was right,” Pawan said.

“I have not received the post mortem report. I was told that there’s a procedure to attach our complaint to another FIR that has already been lodged. The FIR by farmers is the one with which ours is being attached.”