Ghazipur, Jan 31 | Two days after his Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) appealed to party workers to reach dharna sites on Delhi borders to support farmers, its President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday “honoured” farmer leader Rakesh Tikait.
Tikait was presented a ‘siropa’ or Sikh ceremonial sash as well as ‘amrit’ or nectar from the holy pond around Harmandar Sahib in Amritsar in Punjab and assured of total support of the Akalis to ensure the success of the agitation.
The SAD had pulled out of the ruling NDA over the contentious farm laws last year.
Sukhbir, who met Tikait in front of a huge gathering here on the Delhi-UP border, said the farmer leader had done the farming community proud by following in the footsteps of his late father Mahinder Singh Tikait, who was a towering farmer leader of his time.
He also recalled the joint battles Tikait senior and SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal had fought for the welfare of the peasantry.
The SAD on Friday called upon its party workers to rush to three dharna sites on Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-UP borders in larger numbers to boost the farmers’ agitation.
Tikait, while speaking highly about the SAD patron’s contribution towards the farmers cause, told the SAD President that he would visit Badal village to meet the five-time Chief Minister, who is father of Sukhbir, and take his blessings.
Tikait presented SAD chief a sword as a mark of honour.
The SAD President also met families of farmers or persons “missing” since January 26, besides farmers whose relatives have been incarcerated for supporting the protest.
Sukhbir Badal assured the families that the SAD would take up the cases and ensure appropriate legal remedies were made available to them.
He also requested Delhi SAD unit President Harmit Singh Kalka to establish a control room in Delhi to ensure aggrieved families were given instant assistance as and when required.
Sukhbir Badal said the DSGMC would contest all such cases free of cost even as he assured the families that a committee of lawyers had been established in Chandigarh and across all districts in Punjab to ensure a coordinated effort in this direction.
He also released a helpline number for Delhi – 9310510640 — which will complement the three helpline numbers released in Chandigarh on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion, the SAD chief requested all political parties to leave aside petty differences and unite for the greater cause of the peasantry.
He said it was now clear that the farmers of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, besides those from other parts of the country, had formed a united front.
“We must strengthen this front further to ensure the Kisan Andolan is a resounding success.”
Prior to Sukhbir Badal’s arrival, Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Tikait announced that no politician will be handed over microphone to speak on the main stage, claiming that he has received a notice for allowing political leaders to address protesters in the last few days.
Prominent Punjabi singers Harsh Cheema and Karvinder Garwal also joined the protest to lend their support.