Farmers' leader Tikait dead

76-year-old Tikait, who headed the Bharatiya Kisan Union, had been suffering from bone cancer since last year and breathed his last at the residence of his son and BKU General Secretary Rakesh Tikait here, family sources said.

Tikait leaves behind four sons and two daughters. His wife had died earlier.
A large number of people gathered here to pay tributes to the farmer leader. The cremation would be held tomorrow at BKU headquarters in Sisauli.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled Tikait's death, saying he was a unique leader who will be "deeply missed" in the years ahead.

"Chaudhury Tikait's commitment to the welfare of farmers and to rural India was deep and unwavering," Singh said. "His work was a powerful influence across the country and inspired the formation of many other organisations devoted to the cause of farmers," he said.

Describing Tikait as a "fiercely independent" person, the Prime Minister said, "He resisted the pulls of politics all his life. His work, his courage of conviction and his simplicity made him a unique leader."

In Lucknow, Chief Minister Mayawati said, "Tikait worked throughout the life in the interest of farmers and fought for their cause."

JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said, "Tikait was a symbol of relentless struggle against farmers exploitation. True homage to him will be stopping the ongoing loot of farmers land in Uttar Pradesh."

Former BJP president Rajnath Singh said Tikait was "free from all stigma of corruption and lived a simple life. We have lost a true friend of farmers."

A popular leader among farmers, Tikait had led a number of mass movements against the state and central governments to support the rights of the farmers.

The BKU had in 1988 laid a virtual siege to Meerut in pursuit of higher prices for sugarcane, cancellation of loans and lowering of water and electricity rates. The same year he had organised a week-long protest in Delhi's Boat Club to focus on the plight of farmers.

Tikait courted controversy in 2008 when he was arrested and later released on bail for allegedly making derogatory and caste-based remarks against Mayawati.He was arrested several times during his agitations, including in February 2000 in Moradabad while on his way to hold a panchayat in Lucknow.

Born in 1935 at Sisauli in Muzaffarnagar district, Tikait, a Jat, inherited the leadership of Baliyan Khap at the age of eight.

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