Ghaziabad: For all the global uproar the farmers’ movement against the new farm 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. Among the global celebrities to have supported the farmers’ movement are pop singer Rihanna and environmentalist Greta Thunberg. Rakesh Tikait however, said he has no idea they are, but acknowledged their support.
Tikait was talking to the media at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border Thursday. He is credited with reviving the agitation that appeared to be flagging after the January 26 violence in Delhi. He asked mediapersons who the global celebrities are and where they are from.
“Who are these foreign artistes?” Tikait said exhibiting unawareness when asked about the foreigners supporting the farmers’ movement.
He was informed about American singer Rihanna, adult star Mia Khalifa and Swedish 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.
Tikait also commented on a futile attempt of 15 members of Parliament to reach Ghazipur and meet protestors 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),” Tikait informed.
Tikait said he did not 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. Thousands of farmers are camping at the protest site since November. They are demanding that the government repeal the new farm laws enacted last September.
The farmers’ protests at Ghazipur, Tikri and Singhu at Delhi borders have now attained global spotlight. Prominent international celebrities and rights activists are talking about the stir.