The stage at a massive gathering for a farmers’ mahapanchayat or meeting in Haryana’s Jind collapsed this afternoon. Rakesh Tikait, leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Arajnaitik) and other farmer leaders, who were standing on the stage, were taken down when the stage went crashing down. There are no reports of any inuries.
A video of the stage collapse showed Mr Tikait and others being taken down as the stage crashed just as he was about to address the gathering. People who were sitting on the ground, listening to the people on the stage, jumped up in shock.
The “mahapanchayat” has been organised by the Haryana khap, or self-appointed village court, where Rakesh Tikait and several other leaders of various farmer unions were address the gathering.
Several such gatherings have been organised in parts of Uttar Pradesh as well in the last few days.
The meetings have deliberated on the January 26 violence that unfolded in Delhi after a tractor rally by farmers turned rogue as protested veered off the scheduled route, and the subsequent police action.
The farmers are demanding that the government cancel three new laws that they believe will hurt their income by taking away guaranteed minimum prices and by leaving them vulnerable to corporates. The government says the laws bring long overdue reforms in the agriculture sector, and will allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country for competitive prices.