Farmers clash with minister’s aides in U.P. village

Four injured in Muzaffarnagar during visit of Sanjeev Balyan.

Four persons were injured when a clash broke out between the aides of Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan and locals in Soram village of Muzaffarnagar on Monday.

Local sources said Mr. Balyan had come to the village to attend funeral prayers of a senior member of the village. However, when some villagers raised slogans against him and the farm laws, one of his aides snatched a stick from the security staff and attacked the villagers. This led to chaos, forcing the police to intervene to bring the situation under control.

Later, the agitated villagers held a panchayat and hundreds of villagers organised a sit-in protest at the Shahpur police station, demanding that an FIR be registered against Mr Balyan and his aides.

Yogesh Kumar, one of the four persons who were allegedly injured, lodged a complaint, stating that they had been attacked by around 25 aides of Mr. Balyan with the purpose to kill, and severely abused. The police has yet to register the FIR but the Circle Officer of Budhana said they were talking to the farmers.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Kumar said he and his friends were members of the BKU and were raising slogans in support of the Union. “I was pulled into a car by policemen and the aides of the Minister. A gun was pointed at me and I was roughed up. After an hour, I was left in a field,” he said.

In a video, two village women could be heard saying that the Minister’s aides and security staff had pursued the four protesters. “When they tried to hide in their houses they were beaten up. They threatened us with dire consequences and said the Minister had massive ammunition. It is we who made Sanjeev Balyan, now his men are misbehaving with us,” they charged.

Following the incident, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) vice-president Jayant Chaudhary described it as a clash between BJP workers and farmers. “If you can’t speak in farmers’ favour, you can at least maintain decent behaviour,” he tweeted.

However, in a tweet, Mr Balyan alleged that five or six RLD workers had used abusive language when he went to attend the final prayer meeting of late Rajveer Singh in the village. “Locals intervened and shooed them away,” he said in the tweet.

BKU’s national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said farmers should maintain their brotherhood, stating: “When a public representative comes to the village, people should not cross the limits of decency while asking questions.” He further said the public representative should also respect the sentiments of people.

Soram is said to be an important centre of the Balyan khap to which both Mr Balyan and the Tikait brothers belong. The panchayat has a historic record of having passed many rulings against the Mughals and the British. It is also the centre where the records of all the khaps are maintained.

A senior BJP leader from the region said Mr Balyan would be best advised to maintain distance from the region till the tempers cool down.

“He should have taken the hint from his yesterday’s experience when his advances were spurned at two of the three villages he visited. And those who met him pulled him up for not putting across their grievances,” the leader said, adding that several other BJP MPs and MLAs are meeting farmers. “But they are not taking along aides with hockey sticks.” he said.

Meanwhile, BKU president Naresh Tikait addressed a panchayat in Bulandshahr on Monday. Speaking to reporters, he said he had cautioned BJP leaders that meeting farmers in villages won’t help. “We need a more mature approach. That’s why I suggested Rajnath Singh to take a lead. He has a better grasp over famrers’ issues,” he said.

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