Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait has said his farmers’ group will begin a campaign against the Centre’s new military recruitment scheme Agnipath from August 7.
Addressing a farmers’ congregation in the Tikri area of Baghpat district in western Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, Tikait said the “fight with the Central government and the Uttar Pradesh government” over the issue was yet to begin.
“The campaign against the Agnipath scheme will begin on August 7 and continue for over a week,” the BKU national spokesperson said, seeking support of the farming community.
He also alleged that old police cases against farmers were being dug up to intimidate them in the wake of major protests in recent years.
“When the BJP’s government was formed in Uttar Pradesh, the cases against BJP members were closed. So, either they should be prepared for cases or we are ready for a movement,” Tikait said.
“Those in Lucknow and Delhi should listen to this carefully,” he said. “You can break political parties, you can dissociate leaders of farmers’ groups but cannot break the farmers. Farmers will protest against you (the two governments).”
Tikait also highlighted issues related to acquisition of land, power tariff and pending sugarcane dues among others, as he addressed the crowd of hundreds of farmers.
Tikait rose to national prominence during the 2020-21 protests in Delhi against the now-repealed central farm laws.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had attacked the Centre over the Agnipath military recruitment scheme last month, saying the country’s security and the future of the youth are in danger with this “new experiment” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “laboratory”.
“Sixty thousand soldiers retire every year, out of which only 3,000 are getting government jobs,” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. “What will be the future of thousands of ‘Agniveers’ retiring after 4-year contracts,” the former Congress chief asked.
“With this new experiment of the Prime Minister’s laboratory, both the security of the country and the future of the youth are in danger,” Gandhi had said.
Several parts of the country had witnessed protests after the announcement of the scheme that seeks to recruit youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years.
For 2022, the upper age limit has been extended to 23 years. The Congress has been protesting against the scheme and has repeatedly demanded that a discussion be held on it in Parliament.