Ghaziabad: For all the global uproar the farmers’ movement against the new agri laws has caused, the man at its centre seems oblivious of the celebrity support he has been getting.
Rakesh Tikait, the 51-year-old Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader from the hinterlands of Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh, welcomed the support from international artistes and activists, including Rihanna and Greta Thunberg, but acknowledged he does not know them.
Talking to the media at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on Thursday, Tikait, who is credited with reviving the agitation that appeared to be flagging after the January 26 violence in Delhi, sought to know who these people were.
“Who are these foreign artistes?” Tikait said exhibiting unawareness when asked about the foreigners supporting the farmers’ movement.
When informed about American pop-singer Rihanna, adult star Mia Khalifa and Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, the Sisauli-born Tikait responded: “They may have supported us, but I don’t know them.”
“If some foreigner is supporting the movement, then what is the problem. They are not giving us or taking anything away from us,” he said.
Commenting on a futile attempt of 15 members of Parliament to reach Ghazipur and meet protestors on Thursday, the BKU national spokesperson said the MPs should have sat on the ground on the other side of the barricading where they were stopped by the Delhi Police.
“A barricading has been set up here. They had to come, but they should have sat down there itself. They would have been on the other side and we on this side (of the barricades), he said.
Tikait said he did not have any talk with the 15 MPs who had tried to come to Ghazipur to meet the protestors. They were also not allowed to speak to the protestors, he added.
The 15 MPs from 10 Opposition parties, including the SAD, the DMK, the NCP and the Trinamool Congress, wanted to meet protestors at Ghazipur. Members of the National Conference, the RSP and the IUML were also part of the delegation.
Parliament member and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who coordinated the visit, said the leaders were not allowed to cross the barricades and reach the protest site, where thousands of farmers are camping since November with a demand that the government repeal the new agri-marketing laws enacted last September.
The farmers protest at Ghazipur, Tikri and Singhu at Delhi borders have now attained global spotlight with prominent international celebrities and rights activists talking about the stir.
In its pushback, the government said the facts on the issue must be ascertained before rushing to comment on it, and asserted that the “temptation” of sensationalist social media hashtags and views is “neither accurate nor responsible”.