Kisan Mahapanchayat held in Wardha, cancelled in Yavatmal

Wardha/Yavatmal (Maharashtra), Feb 20 (IANS) The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) held its first Kisan Mahapanchayat in Wardha here but was forced to cancel a similar farmers’ gathering in Yavatmal on Saturday owing to Covid-19 restrictions, the organisers said.

Though the SKM leader Rakesh Tikait was absent, a team of farmers’ leaders from Delhi reached here by road to address the Kisan Mahapanchayat which passed off peacefully in Wardha this afternoon, said SKM member Guramneet Singh Mangat.

“Around 5,000 farmers representing around 40 farm organisations enthusiastically attended the Mahapanchayat in Wardha where we explained to them our stand on the three new farm laws and our demand from the Central government,” Mangat said.

He was accompanied by Tejveer Singh, spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Cheduni) and Amandeep Singh Ghuman, General Secretary of Pagdi Sambhal Jatta Leher in Punjab.

Later, they left Wardha for Yavatmal where prohibitory orders have been clamped since Friday and the police denied permission, at the last minute, to hold the Kisan Mahapanchayat.

“Our senior leader Rakesh Tikait could not reach Nagpur by flight from Delhi on Friday night owing to certain issues. However, we decided to go ahead and hold the Mahapanchayat in Wardha and Yavatmal,” Mangat added.

When they entered Yavatmal borders, they were welcomed by Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) President Kishore Tiwari amidst a huge police presence.

“I received them on behalf of our Chief Minister Uddhav Thackerayji. I conveyed the CM’s message that the Mahapanchayat could not be allowed in view of the deteriorated Covid-19 situation in the state. However, Maharashtra would look forward to a fresh Mahapanchayat after the situation improves,” said Tiwari, who is accorded a Minister of State status.

He added that one local activist, acting at the behest of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, attempted to collect farmers for the Yavatmal Mahapanchayat but the state farmers’ leaders and organisations ignored his plea as they have no faith in him.

Tiwari also thanked Mangat, Singh and Ghuman, and seven other representatives from Nagpur, for honouring the CM’s request and postponing the Kisan MahaPanchayat for a later date.

Earlier, several major farmers’ organisations including All India Kisan Sabha, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, other organisations allied with Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, Congress, etc. had shown willingness to participate in the Mahapanchayat but were reluctant after the entry of some BJP activists, though the Yavatmal programme was dropped due to the contagion.

Later this evening, the 10-member delegation which arrived from Delhi and Nagpur, were detained by the Yavatmal Police, amid speculation they may be arrested for flouting the prevailing Covid-19 norms.

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