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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Government divided farmers, orchestrated split in Samyukt Kisan Morcha: Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait

Under the SKM's banner, a large number of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, had held a year-long protest on Delhi's border points

PTI New Delhi Published 17.04.24, 05:48 PM
Rakesh Tikait

Rakesh Tikait File picture

Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait has attacked the BJP, alleging that the split in the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which had led the 2020-21 farmers' movement, was orchestrated by its government at the Centre.

Under the SKM's banner, a large number of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, had held a year-long protest on Delhi's border points -- Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur -- against the now-repealed three farm laws.

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"The Samyukt Kisan Morcha left Delhi as one, but some people later parted ways. The government of India wanted to create another movement and they created it," he said in an interview with PTI.

The split, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader said, led to the creation of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political).

The SKM is not part of the ongoing protest of the SKM (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) over farmers' demands, including a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) for crops and farm debt waiver.

The agitation started on February 13 with the organisations' calling for a "Delhi Chalo" march, and since then, farmers, mainly from Punjab, are at camping at the Shambhu border after being stopped by the Haryana Police.

Referring to the past clashes between protesters and police at the border, Tikait said the SKM has condemned the use of force against farmers. However, the splinter group (the SKM (Non-Political)) has not tried to initiate any discussions with the SKM, he claimed.

"Our effort for the last two years has been that the SKM remains together and any call is given together. The SKM is not a part of that (Delhi Chalo) movement. They (SKM (Non-Political) and KMM) are talking with the central government," he said.

The SKM was created so that farmers can be united, said Tikait, whose outfit was among the 41 organisations that came together under the banner of the SKM to protest against the laws. Now, a number of new farmer unions are being formed to divide farmers, he claimed and added that this is part of a "conspiracy".

"I said at the beginning of this (Delhi Chalo) protest that it will go on till the (Lok Sabha) elections are over. Some members of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), posing as farmers, misguided people. Some ministers talked to them about how to break the SKM. This could be done only by creating a new SKM, which the government can hold dialogues with," he said.

He said the split and the ongoing protest have served their purposes. These are sidelining of the original SKM leadership, and maligning the Punjab government and the Sikh community, Tikait said.

"It (the SKM (Non-Political)) would be called a second movement... so that they can sideline SKM leaders and create a new leadership. The morcha (march) has been stopped at the (Shambhu) border because the state government is of another party, that party will be blamed, and the Sikh community and farmers' organisations will be maligned," he said.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in power in Punjab and a majority of farmers in the ongoing protest at the Shambhu border are from the state.

On the clashes at the border, Tikait said, "The SKM has held programmes across the country against the atrocities committed on them. But even today, they (the SKM (Non-Political)) don't want to talk." He alleged that a number of new farmer organisations are being formed at the behest of the BJP-led central government to divide the farmers.

"There are 37 farmer organisations registered in Noida by the name of Bharatiya Kisan Union. Even MLAs are heading such organisations. More such organisations will be formed on caste lines and based on crops. It is the priority of the government of India to create 30-to-40 new organisations in every district so that people can be divided," Tikait alleged.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader accused the Centre of conspiring against farmer groups that have been putting pressure on the government over farmers' demands, including MSP according to the C2+50 (input cost of capital+50 per cent) formula suggested by the MS Swaminathan Committee and a legal guarantee of procurement of crops at MSP.

"The government is conspiring... We created the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, and whoever agrees with our ideology, will join the morcha," he said.

Talking about the incidents of January 26, 2021, when some farmers during a tractor march in Delhi forcibly entered the Red Fort, Tikait alleged that "police led the protesters".

There were tractors outside the the 17th century monument and clashes with police in the ITO area. "The Delhi Police and all other police forces were hatching conspiracies. The January 26 incident was a conspiracy, what happened on January 27-28 was also a conspiracy," he claimed.

On January 28, 2021, the Uttar Pradesh government had ordered farmers to vacate the Ghazipur border and police had tried to remove them by cutting electricity and water connections to the protest site.

Thousands of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh reached the Ghazipur border the next day, and the protest intensified. Tikait said they had information that a large number of people may die if they were removed from the protest site.

"We knew about this a month before it happened. We knew 1,000-1,500 people may get killed when this movement is removed. We had said that this will be our place of attaining martyrdom...," he said on the happenings of January 2021.

"They led us to the Red Fort. If farmers wanted to go, we would have gone to Parliament. They did not give us the route we wanted. We said we would take an U-turn from Akshardham, and the press would be on NH-24. Police personnel in civil clothes told people to go to the Red Fort," Tikait said.

"They cut our water, electricity, and we also gave a call... We said we will die here," he said.

The BKU leader alleged that the government continues to hatch conspiracies.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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