Farmers' stir: Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal meets Rakesh Tikait at Ghazipur border

CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday met farmer leader Rakesh Tikait at Ghazipur border and presented him with a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour), as he assured his party’s support to the farmers movement.

Badal said that Tikait had made the farming community proud by following the footsteps of his father Mahendra Singh Tikait, a towering farmer leader, a party statement said. “He reminisced about the joint battles of Mahendra Singh Tikait and SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal for the welfare of the peasantry,” it said.

Presented ‘siropa’ & ‘amrit’ from Sri Darbar Sahib, Sri Amritsar Sahib, to Kisan leader #RakeshTikait ji & assured @Akali_Dal_’s complete support. Tikait ji has done farming community proud by following in the footsteps of his father & towering farm leader Ch Mahender Tikait Ji.
— Sukhbir Singh Badal (@officeofssbadal) January 31, 2021

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief also met the families of farmers whose next of kin had been missing since January 26, besides those whose relatives have been incarcerated for “supporting” the farmers’ protest, the statement said.

Badal assured the families that SAD would take up their cases and ensure appropriate legal remedies were made available to them. He also requested his party’s Delhi unit chief Harmit Singh Kalka to establish a control room in the national capital to ensure that aggrieved families were given assistance as and when required.

The SAD leader said the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee would also contest all such cases free of cost even as he assured the families that a committee of lawyers had been established in Chandigarh and across all districts in Punjab to ensure a coordinated effort in this direction.

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He requested all political parties to leave aside petty differences and unite for the greater cause of the peasantry. He said it was now clear that farmers of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh besides those from different parts of the country had formed a united front. “We must strengthen this front further to ensure that the ‘kisan andolan’ is a resounding success,” Badal added.

Farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi borders, demanding a rollback of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations. However, the Centre has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.