Tikait in Uttar Pradesh police net - finally

April 2nd, 2008 - 3:09 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party
(Afternoon Lead)

Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh), April 2 (IANS) Farmer chieftain Mahendra Singh Tikait was arrested from his political bastion here Wednesday, ending a two-day standoff with the Uttar Pradesh government that had issued a warrant against him for allegedly making casteist remarks against Chief Minister Mayawati.
Success came after virtual nightlong deliberations between a team of senior officials from the state capital Lucknow and the powerful leader of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) that commands a following among the Jat dominant farmers of western Uttar Pradesh.

Mayawati had handpicked the four-member team with care. It comprised one IAS and three IPS officers, all of who had served in Muzaffarnagar; three of them belong to Tikait’s own Jat community.

It was agreed that the BKU leader, against whom a warrant had been issued Monday under the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Atrocities Prevention Act, would leave his village Sisauli and surrender before the court at Bijnor. Accordingly, a convoy of more than 100 cars, jeeps and tractors left Sisauli and proceeded to the district headquarters of Muzaffarnagar.

When it reached this town, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ajay Anand announced his formal arrest and escorted the farmer leader to Bijnor where he would be produced before the court.

“Tikait was arrested from his house in Muzaffarnagar,” Inspector General (Meerut) V.K. Gupta told IANS.

“This is the first time that Tikait has been humbled into virtually surrendering before the police,” added a top official in Lucknow.

The controversy was sparked after Tikait, 73, allegedly abused Mayawati during a rally in Bijnor Sunday.

Tikait decided to take a step back early Wednesday at a panchayat in Sisauli, the headquarters of his BKU.

Sporting his trademark Gandhi cap, a now-portly Tikait told his supporters in the village: “I do not want bloodshed; that is why I am surrendering.”

The supporters were opposed to the idea of his arrest and were prepared for a showdown with the police.

As about 10,000 men in uniform stood guard around Sisauli, the man who commands a vast following in the farming community told his supporters in the presence of journalists that he was ready to surrender.

Tikait, however, asked the police not to arrest him and declared that he would give himself up in court.

Tikait had late Tuesday signalled that he was mellowing by going back on his remarks against Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati and calling her his daughter.

The Uttar Pradesh government called in the Rapid Action Force, Provincial Armed Constabulary and policemen from 28 police stations Monday to arrest Tikait but backed off as his supporters fought pitched battles with the security personnel throughout the day.

Despite admitting his mistake and terming the remarks “a slip of tongue”, the farmer leader said Mayawati was seeking revenge.

Tikait’s softening of stance late Tuesday brought him more time to consider the option of surrender. Behind the scene negotiations of the administrators with Tikait’s family members also paved the way for a possible amicable solution to the impasse.

Tikait’s supporters who were opposed to his decision to surrender continued to shout anti-Mayawati slogans.

“If you surrender today the atrocities of this government would increase,” Rashtriya Lok Dal MP Anuradha Chowdhury told him.

Insiders said that Tikait would be seeking to bail out his two sons already arrested by the police over Monday’s clashes.

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