Monday, April 19, 2021

Cop to farm leader: Tracing Tikait’s journey

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Rakesh Tikait, to whom the Delhi Police issued a notice asking him to explain why legal action should not be taken against him for breaching the agreement with police regarding the tractor rally on January 26, is himself a former Delhi Police constable.

And the ongoing farmers’ protest, specifically a tearful speech he delivered when all seemed lost, could well mark his ascension as his father’s son. Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson is a prominent name in the farmers’ movement and belongs to the well-known Tikait family of Sisauli village in Muzaffarnagar district of western Uttar Pradesh.

His father Mahendra Singh Tikait, one of the tallest farmer leaders of the country and president of the BKU is still remembered as the man who held Delhi hostage for 7 days in October 1988 at the boat club. Over 5 lakh farmers joined the movement.

Tikait, who, along with his supporters, has been camping on the Ghazipur border between Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, was asked to vacate the site on Thursday. The administration shut of power and water at the farmer encampment. Then came Tikait’s speech, and tractors from Haryana started rolling towards Ghazipur. Farmers in Uttar Pradesh organised a Mahapanchayat on Friday to discuss the issue and expressed their support for Tikait.

His elder brother Naresh Tikait is the current BKU chief.

Born in Sisauli village on June 4, 1969, Tikait went to DAV School of Sisauli and thereafter joined Kisan Inter College in Lalukheri of Muzaffarnagar district. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from Meerut University.

He briefly served the Delhi police as a constable and resigned during the 1993 farmers’ protest spearheaded by his father. The then government pressured him to convince his father to end the movement, but he refused to give in and opted to resign and join the protest.

Tikait was elected national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union in 1997.

He contested the assembly elections from the Khatauli constituency of Muzaffarnagar in 2007 and lost. He then joined the Rashtriya Lok Dal ( RLD) of Ajit Singh in March 2014 and contested the Lok Sabha election from Amroha constituency against the advice of farmer leaders of the area. He received only 9,539 votes (0.62 percent) of the total votes polled and lost again.

He belongs to the Baliyan khap (clan). In keeping with the khap’s tradition, his elder brother Naresh Tikait was appointed head of the khap and chief of BKU after the death of their father Mahendra Singh Tikait on May 15, 2011.

The title “Tikait” was given to the head of Baliyan khap by King Harshvardhan , the Jat ruler of Thanesar in the 7th century and the tradition is still in place.

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