SKM leaders back Tikait, say deal with govt to compensate Lakhimpur Kheri victims’ kin was collective decision
Farmers’ leaders said a media report imputing that BKU leader Rakesh Tikait unilaterally settled for the agreement ‘too fast, for too little’ was untrue as he kept everyone in loop during negotiations
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, who mediated a deal between the UP government and a group of farmers following the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri, had the consent and backing of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – an umbrella body of various farmers’ unions –farmers’ leaders have said.
Following a report published by The Indian Express, a perception was created among a section of the masses that Rakesh Tikait took the decision to finalize the ‘deal’ with the UP government on his own and thus helped the Yogi administration in mitigating its image damage.
SKM leaders say that finalizing the agreement was a collective decision and that it wasn’t true that Tikait agreed ‘too early and for too less’.
“Tikait kept the SKM leadership in the loop all through the negotiation. He conveyed everything to them as well as the leadership of the Sikh community. He also took each and every affected family into confidence before announcing the agreement before the media,” said a BKU leader who was part of the negotiation team.
After the Tikait-led negotiation, the UP government had announced a compensation of Rs 45 lakh to the families of farmers killed in the violence and a government job to one member of the family, besides Rs 10 lakh to injured farmers, and a probe into the episode by a retired judge.
“Let the media report what the BJP government wants it to plant, but the truth cannot be hidden. It was a collective decision. The BKU, SKM, and farmers’ leaders from Haryana and Punjab were involved in the negotiation,” said Dharmendra Malik, spokesman of the BKU.
Farmers’ leader Dr. Darshanpal, who hails from Punjab, said that the agreement between the farmers and the UP government was sealed after the SKM gave its consent.
“Tikait was one of the negotiators. The SKM deployed a team of nine leaders to hold the negotiation with the UP government. Some reached Lakhimpur Kheri, while others were stopped. Anoop Singh, Suresh Koth, and Raminder Patiala were deployed by the SKM. We were getting updates after negotiations began at 1.30 am on Monday,” he said.
The report in The Indian Express said, “Sources said these officers, along with others, roped in Tikait for mediation, ensured he reached Lakhimpur Kheri as soon as possible and arranged negotiations which began at around 1.30 am on Monday and ended around 2 pm, nearly 12 hours later.”
Commenting on the report, Dr Darshanpal said, “Since Rakesh Tikait is from Uttar Pradesh and he has been playing an important role there, he is being discussed. Immediately after the violence, I had called up Dharmendra Malik and asked him to move with Tikait as soon as possible”.
“Officers involved in the negotiation from the government side were quoted by the paper, but it is their version…We know who was negotiating on behalf of farmers. Gurmaneet Mangat – a leader from Nighasan, who was leading the protest that day – was also part of the negotiations. The SKM gave its consent after he and the families of the deceased gave their consent to the terms of the agreement,” said Dr Darshanpal.
A prominent face of the SKM, AIKS leader Hannan Mollah slammed the BJP-RSS for trying to break the unity of farmers by planting reports in the media.
Reacting to report published by The Indian Express, Mollah said the report gives the impression that there is a division among farm leaders, “which is not true.”
“Rakesh Tikait played a very important and positive role in breaking the deadlock. Had Rakesh Tikait not been on the ground, the situation could have worsened,” said Mollah.
Speaking to NH, Mollah, who was constantly in touch with the negotiators on the ground, said, “The outcome (of the negotiation) is very much close to the terms and conditions laid down by the SKM.”
He alleged that Union Minister Ajay Mishra wanted to orchestrate riots between Sikhs and Hindu-Brahmins in Lakhimpur Kheri. “Their intention was to carry out a massacre of Sikhs as they had launched a campaign against the minority community by calling them as ‘Khalistani’, but Rakesh Tikiat dampened their plan and averted a big conflict,” he said.
“Alleging that Tikait took a ‘unilateral’ decision is part of the nefarious designs of the RSS-BJP to defame the farmers’ protests. They wanted to create a rift in SKM,” asserted Mollah.