On Monday morning, Yudhvir Singh, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) general secretary, tweeted the video of a villager announcing the call for a panchayat by beating the drum attached to the carrier of his cycle. “Can the suspension of Internet service stop this as well?” asked Mr. Singh. He was proved right as thousands of farmers turned up for the panchayat in Bijnor despite pressure from the administration.
“You can’t stop the flood of people. The administration tried it in Baraut on Sunday but had to regret eventually,” said Mr Singh. “It is just a start. We will expose the laws across the country.”
The panchayat was attended by Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary and Gaurav Tikait, son of BKU president Naresh Tikait.
Mr. Chaudhary said the panchayats showed the light after darkness enveloped every farmer’s house following the incident at the Ghazipur border on Thursday. “(RLD president) Ajit Singh made a start and today’s show of strength is its example,” he said.
The good thing, he said, was that people were reaching the panchayats on their own accord, after spending their own money on travel. “Farmers in western Uttar Pradesh have woken up and they want the government to accept their demands,” Mr. Chaudhary said.
He said the government should accede to people’s demands as it is expected in a democracy. “I appeal to the Prime Minister to step back and give up on his adamant stance [on the farm laws].”
Mr. Singh said there was nothing in the Budget that could explain the government’s promise of doubling farmers’ income. “There is no concrete plan to improve the condition of farmers when the cost of farming keeps rising. Most of the provisions go to agro-industries,” he said.
Mr. Singh held that when dal is bought for ₹33 per kg by agro-industries and sold at ₹140 per kg, neither the farmer nor the consumer was benefited. The government, he said, had not been able to explain how the three farm laws would improve the situation.
On the funding of the panchayats, Mr. Singh he said the BKU did not believe in putting up posters. “Even the stage is made by joining two trolleys of tractors. We only have to pay for the sound arrangement,” he said.
Earlier, the Bijnor administration had made elaborate arrangements for the panchayat, with four Assistant Superintendents of Police, eight Deputy Superintendents of Police, 22 Station House Officers and 600 constables on the ground, besides presssing four companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary were into service. Ramit Sharma, Inspector General of Police-Moradabad, also camped in Bijnor.