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'Anyone who is born in the Tikait family, will have to participate in the farmers' movement' says, Rakesh Tikait

The farmer's union leader reiterated his family's commitment to the farmer's cause.
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 12:00 IST
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 12:00 IST

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New Delhi: Generations to come of the Tikait family will remain committed to the farmers' movement in India, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said, as he remembered the legacy of his father Mahendra Singh Tikait.

In an interview with PTI, Tikait also reminisced about his days in the Delhi Police as a constable and on seeing law enforcement from both sides.

Son of prominent farmer leader and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) co-founder late Mahendra Singh Tikait, Rakesh Tikait is a spokesperson of the outfit, which his brother Naresh Tikait heads now.

Asked about his family's name becoming synonymous with the farmers' movement in India, and if he expected the future generations to walk the same path, the BKU leader said, "We have always said that for generations to come, anyone who is born in the Tikait family, will have to participate in the farmers' movement.

"This is not a recent thing which started with Tikait Sahab or in 1988. We have a history of 1200 years. And it will go on for generations," he said.

According to the website of the BKU, the hereditary title of Tikait was apparently conferred on this family by the seventh-century emperor Harshavardhan.

Asked if he tells his grandchildren stories about the Boat Club protest of 1988, Rakesh Tikait said those stories are 'trending' these days.

"They learn everything. All this is trending now. When one grows in that atmosphere, they learn everything," he said.

Remembering his early days, Tikait said he did his BA (Bachelor of Arts), but did not complete his MA (Master of Arts). He also said he served as a constable in the Delhi Police between 1988-1995.

"I was a constable in Delhi Police... I was posted in the bomb squad," he said.

Tikait said he joined the police as he wanted to undergo physical training. Besides, his initial inclination was towards joining the military and undergoing commando training.

"I wanted to go to the military and undergo commando training. I did not get through the military, but I got through Delhi police recruitment. The Delhi Police training was good. We were trained at Moradabad, and then I was posted in the bomb squad," he said.

Tikait said he has served in the areas of Central Delhi, and once also found country made bombs at a farmhouse in Delhi.

"We once found country bombs at a farmhouse in Najafgarh. I said we should burst these crackers," he said.

He also recalled that during his days in the police, he would not participate on the stage in protests, but did the background work.

Asked if he quit the police force on his father's insistence, he said his father never asked him to leave.

"I had learned what I had to learn," he said.

The farmer leader, who led the Ghazipur border protest during the 2020-21 farmers' protests against the now repealed three farm laws, was asked to compare between his experience as a police personnel and as a protester. "Police do not decide anything on their own. One should perform their duty honestly, wherever they are posted. What is the policy of the ruling dispensation matters. The officials do as they are told," he said.

Rakesh Tikait is one of the prominent leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a collective of farmers' organisations which led the 2020-21 protests against the farm laws and has continued to hold protests across the country since then demanding legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops among other things. He had led the Ghazipur border protests, where farmers from western Uttar Pradesh had been stationed for over a year.

In 1988, his father Mahendra Singh Tikait organised BKU rally at Delhi's Boat Club lawns when nearly five lakh farmers from western Uttar Pradesh camped at the entire stretch from Vijay Chowk to India Gate for over a week, and compelled the then Rajiv Gandhi government to accept a 35-point charter of demands which included raising of prices for sugarcane and the waiving of electricity bills for farmers.

In 2018 as well, the BKU had led a march to Delhi. Thousands of farmers had headed towards the national capital on October 2 to demand unconditional farm loan waivers, fixed MSP and the implementation of Swaminathan Committee Report.

The farmers were stopped at the border but were allowed to enter the city the following morning. Subsequently, the farmers had marched to former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh's memorial Kisan Ghat.

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Published 18 April 2024, 12:00 IST

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