Farmers in large numbers converged on the Government Inter College Ground at Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh for the mahapanchayat on Sunday. While the district administration estimated a turnout of 100,000, the farmers’ unions said 10,00,000 had arrived in the city over 24 hours for the “historic” meeting. The farmers’ unions called for a “Bharat bandh” on September 27.
“We have kicked off ‘Mission UP and Uttarakhand’ from this stage. We will not let BJP win the upcoming elections,” said a statement by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of 40 farmer organisations, which organised the mahapanchayat. “The Muzaffarnagar kisan mazdoor mahapanchayat will be remembered as a historic day and will prove to be a turning point in the Indian political landscape.
Farmers won’t be polarised by communal politics. Let us chant Allah Hu Akbar and Har Har Mahadev together,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, sharing the stage with BKU national president Naresh Tikait, social activist Medha Patkar, Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav and influential farmer leader Ghulam Mohammad Jola. A founding member of BKU, Jola had quit the organisation after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.
Announcing a farmer association for UP, like SKM, Tikait said it would “defeat the Yogi (Adityanath) government” in 2022. “They sold our rivers, our water. We will not let them sell our land … I will lay down my life if needed but will not leave the protest site until we emerge victorious,” he said. “The struggle for Independence went on for 90 years. I have no idea how long ours will continue.” A host of farmer leaders, each addressing the gathering for a minute or two, spoke from the dais. All of them said the protests would continue until the government promised a “legal guarantee of MSP.”