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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 18 June 2024

Microphone, ink attack on Rakesh Tikait in Bengaluru

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader was addressing the media at Gandhi Bhavan when a man rushed to the dais, grabbed a mic and hit him

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 31.05.22, 02:21 AM
Rakesh Tikait in Bangalore.

Rakesh Tikait in Bangalore. PTI photo

Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait was attacked with a microphone and had ink thrown at him amid alleged chants of “Modi, Modi” in Bangalore on Monday, foregrounding a contested claim that an attempt had been made to buy off some of those who took part in the victorious movement against the three central farm laws last year.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union leader was addressing the media at Gandhi Bhavan when a man rushed to the dais, grabbed a microphone and hit him. Footage of the incident showed another man quickly moving onto the dais, apparently capitalising on the confusion, and throwing ink at Tikait.

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Chukki Nanjundaswamy, a farmer leader from Karnataka, said she saw a man shouting the Prime Minister’s name. “During the incident, I saw a man shouting ‘Modi, Modi’,” she told The Telegraph.

The scuffle after the attack on Tikait in Bangalore  on Monday.

The scuffle after the attack on Tikait in Bangalore on Monday. PTI photo

In a video clip tweeted by the news agency ANI, one of the attackers can be heard shouting something similar to “Modi, Modi, Modi”.

The attack triggered chaos, with plastic chairs being thrown and a scuffle erupting at the venue.

Chukki, who was seated two chairs away from Tikait, said the leader would have been hit on his head had he not defended himself.

Bangalore police said three of the attackers had been detained.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which spearheaded the anti-farm law agitation, said Bharat Shetty, one of the three taken into custody for questioning, had close links with BJP leaders.

Rakesh Tikait interacts with media after an unidentified person threw ink on him at an event in Bangalore on Monday.

Rakesh Tikait interacts with media after an unidentified person threw ink on him at an event in Bangalore on Monday. PTI

“Till now, the main accused Bharat Shetty has been identified and is in police custody. The photo of the prime accused along with former Karnataka chief minister Yeddiyurappa, BJP state vice-president Vijayendra, current home minister Araga Jnanendra and irrigation minister Govind Karjol has made it clear that the attack was sponsored by the BJP,” the SKM said.

Tikait had arrived in the city for the news conference to deny allegations of a bribery attempt to end the agitation against the three contentious farm laws.

In a “sting operation” by a Kannada channel recently, Kodihalli Chandrashekar, who heads a faction of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (a farmers’ union), purportedly claimed he was ready to cut a deal to end the anti-farm-law agitation and the national leaders of the movement were ready to wind down the protests in exchange for bribes.

He seemed to be suggesting that a deal had been offered to him but did not disclose who had offered it.

“The main purpose of Tikait attending the news conference was to deny these baseless allegations,” Chukki added.

Tikait accused the BJP government of not providing security. “We were addressing a news conference when some people hit us with a microphone and threw ink. It’s a failure of the Karnataka government and police. It’s a conspiracy that needs to be investigated,” he later told reporters.

A prominent face of the farmers’ movement that forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal the three farm laws, Tikait has since been in the crosshairs of all those who supported the farm legislation.

The SKM demanded strict action against the culprits, the suspension of police officers and a judicial inquiry into the incident.

“The ink could have been replaced with acid or even a bomb, the consequences of which could have been fatal. It is now clear that the attackers had the full support of the BJP and the Karnataka government. It would not be appropriate to ignore this as a small incident since Rakesh Tikait has been attacked in the past as well,” the SKM said.

The Kisan Ekta Morcha condemned the ink attack on Tikait. “We strongly condemn the cowardly attack on Rakesh Tikait in Karnataka. Such attacks are happening only to break our spirits. Some people are not able to digest the victory of farmers in the #FarmersProtest. The self-esteem of farmers is being hurt, against which we shall protest,” the Kisan Ekta Morcha tweeted.

Leader of the state Opposition P.C. Siddaramaiah tweeted: “Physical assault on farmer leader #RakeshTikait is a testimony to @BJP4Karnataka’s inability to face opponents on ideological basis & has exposed BJP’s intellectual bankruptcy. Karnataka is known for being peaceful & the credit for turning it into a goonda Raj should go to BJP.”

Karnataka Congress president D.K. Shivakumar described it as an attack on democracy. “I condemn the ink attack on farmer leader Sri Rakesh Tikait. This incident has raised concerns about the state as this is not just an attack on Sri Tikait, but on democracy, farmer’s ideology & constitutional rights. I appeal to the govt to take strong action against the culprits,” he tweeted.

Chandrashekar had faced an ink attack last week over the sting operation. Workers of the Janata Dal Secular had stopped him from entering the Bangalore Press Club where he was to address a news conference and thrown ink at him on Saturday.

A rival Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha faction, headed by Badagalapura Nagendra, held a protest against Chandrashekar in Mysore on Saturday and submitted a memorandum to governor Thaawar Chand Gehlot seeking an investigation by the CBI or a sitting high court judge into the bribery bid allegations.

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