Two cases have been filed against Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait for allegedly making a provocative speech on March 20. Tikait had said farmers in Karnataka should organise a protest in the state similar to that of Delhi and gherao Bengaluru from all sides. The cases have been filed by Haveri and Shivamogga Police.
“You need to make a ‘Delhi’ in Bengaluru. You need to gherao Bengaluru (like Delhi) from all sides and people will come and join your protest…The Prime Minister said farmers can sell crops anywhere so you take your crops to offices of District Collector, SDM and if the police stop you, ask them to buy crops on MSP,” Tikait had said.
Tikait had come to Karnataka to address the first Raitha Mahapanchayat of south India. KL Ashok, one of the organisers who invited Tikait told The Hindu, “Earlier, many senior leaders of BJP including party’s state president Nalin Kumar Kateel, Lok Sabha members Shobha Karandlaje and RDPR Minister KS Eshwarappa had given statements inciting violence. However, the police remained mute spectators. We will protest against the police”. Another organiser KP Sripal said that the police succumbed to pressure from the people in power in the state and hence filed the case.
Former Karnataka chief minister and leader of the Janata Dal (Secular) party HD Kumaraswamy also spoke up against the case filed against Tikait and has called for withdrawal of the same. He said that there was no provocative element in Tikait’s speech and also called the police action “an attempt to silence the voice of farmers”.
He took to Twitter to view his opinions:
The police have booked a case against Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait in Shivamogga and Haveri on the charges of delivering provocative speech. This is nothing but an attempt to silence the voice of farmers.@narendramodi @BSYBJP @PMOIndia @CMofKarnataka
— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) March 25, 2021
He said, “It is well within the rights granted by the Constitution to take up struggles and to give a call for struggle. He did not call for assaulting or killing.”
Notably, the Supreme Court, on March 25, observed while quashing a case against journalist Patricia Mukhim that “Free speech of the citizens of this country cannot be stifled by implicating them in criminal cases, unless such speech has the tendency to affect public order”.