Govt shouldn’t treat farmers’ stir like Shaheen Bagh protest: Tikait

Yamunanagar: BKU leader Rakesh Tikait on Wednesday said the government should not treat the ongoing farmers’ agitation like last year’s protest in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and asserted that the protesters will only go home after the new agricultural laws are repealed.

He said the protesting farmers will follow all COVID-19 protocols and if need be, continue their agitation till 2023.

Shaheen Bagh had emerged as the epicentre of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests last year as hundreds took part in a months-long sit-in that began in December 2019. The Delhi Police cleared the protest site on March 24, 2020, a day before a nationwide lockdown was enforced in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to reporters here, Tikait said the Centre’s farm laws will only spell losses for farmers.

“Farmers will not go back home till these laws are repealed. They talk of coronavirus but we have told the government that they should not treat this stir like Shaheen Bagh. This agitation will not end. We will follow the coronavirus guidelines and this agitation will continue till our demands are met,” he said.

In response to a question, he said, “Even if we have to continue the protest till 2023, we are prepared. Till the time these laws are not repealed and a law is not framed on MSP, farmers will not go back home.” 

Tikait reiterated that the farmers are ready to talk to the government. 

“Whenever the government has time, we are ready to talk. We will wait for their call,” he said.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at three border points of Delhi — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur — demanding a repeal of the three farm laws enacted by the Centre in September last year.

The Centre says the new farm laws will free farmers from middlemen, giving them more options to sell their crops.

The protesting farmers, however, say the laws will weaken the minimum support price (MSP) system and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.