New Delhi, December 12
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Saturday said farmers unions are not aware of the presence of any anti-social elements in their ongoing protests against the Centre’s new farm laws and asked the government to nab them if it feels so.
His comments came a day after the Centre asked the protesting farmers to be vigilant against their platform being misused, saying some “anti-social” as well as “Leftist and Maoist” elements are conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the agitation.
Tikait accused the government of trying to “malign” their protests against the new agriculture laws.
“We do not know about the presence of anti-social elements in our agitation. The government is trying to distract the farmers. By saying all this, it is trying to malign our movement. And if it thinks there are any such elements in our protests, it should catch them. We have not stopped the government,” he told PTI.
On Human Rights Day on Thursday, photographs of some protesters at the Tikri border holding posters and demanding the release of several activists arrested under various charges had gone viral on social media, prompting Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to say that these “anti-social elements” are conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the peasants’ movement under the guise of farmers.
Earlier in the day, farmer leader Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu alleged at a press conference that the government tried to weaken their agitation, but the protesting farmers did not let that happen.
“The government tried to weaken our agitation by dividing us (various farmer unions). I want to say that the ongoing agitation is fully under the control of 32 farmer unions. We will fail every government attempt to divide us,” he said.
Pannu said they are ready to hold talks with the government, but will first discuss repealing the three new farm laws and announced that representatives of their unions would sit on a hunger strike during a nationwide protest on December 14.
He also said thousands of farmers will start their “Delhi Chalo’ march with their tractors from Rajasthan’s Shahjahanpur through the Jaipur-Delhi highway at 11 am on Sunday. PTI