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On 5th September, major celebrations took place in Muzaffarnagar where slogans of honouring farmers and ridiculing BJP echoed all around. Farmers came together from all around the country to the Kisan Mahapanchayat, the largest farmer gathering in the world.
In 2013, communal violence spread across Muzaffarnagar where at least 66 people died. "It was after the 2013 mahapanchayat that the 2013 riots happened. And it was because of the riots, that the BJP came to power. Our vote enabled them to gain power. Our unity had been destroyed then. We made a big mistake, we all realise that," 45-year-old Devi Singh, a farmer from Bijrol in Baghpat, said.
The essence of this Mahapanchayat was to show their unity between Hindus and Muslims and strength against the kaale kanoon (black laws) which were passed by the central Government in September 2020. The farmers call this gathering a warning to the BJP government keeping in consideration the upcoming UP elections in near about six months.
Constant calls were made from the stage to differentiate the 2013 Mahapanchayat from the current one. Calls to forget caste, religion, community and come together against an 'oppressive' Government. "Every time a mahapanchayat is held in Muzaffarnagar, it changes the face of the UP government. The time has come again," said a BKU representative.
It is important to realise that the unity seen is not coming from sympathy on the attacks the minorities faced or any loyalty towards them but from shared economic distress. Everyday expenses have hit the roof due to which they cannot think of sending their kids to school, or building a better home. For example, in 2013 the cylinder price was for Rs 300, now it is Rs 900.
But not everyone thinks the same. The loyalty to BJP spread to many villages in Muzaffarnagar and they believe that they owe everything to the ruling party. They refuse going to the Mahapanchayat however bad the economic distress gets. Their incessant hate towards Muslims has also only extrapolated as time passed.
Several Muslim farmers were actively involved in the Mahapanchayat, helping with distribution of food and water and many were at the ground listening to all the speeches. 60-year-old Mohd Ilyas, who said that he and all Muslims are wary of the BKU, but they do not see any option but to support them. "We cannot do much."
It will be interesting to see what turn these events take when the elections are held and how the show of unity affects the BJP Government.
This article has been written by Sr. Content Editor Riya Rajayyan for The Paradigm
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