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Updated May 20th, 2021 at 21:33 IST

Rakesh Tikait demands COVID vaccine centres at Delhi protest sites after farmer succumbs

Rakesh Tikait, who has been at the helm of the farmers' protest, was addressing media outside the Khera border where he had come to take stock of the situation.

Pritesh Kamath
Rakesh Tikait
IMAGE: AP/PTI | Image:self
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Two of the farmers protesting on Delhi's borders against the new farm laws died on Wednesday, one of whom was found to be COVID-19 positive. Reacting to the developments, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait has put the responsibility of the deaths on the government and put forward the demand of setting up vaccination centres near the protest sites. He reiterated the farmers will not move from the protest sites until the laws are repealed. The BKU spokesperson who has been first in line to make political hay via the farmers' protest and has himself been vaccinated while making controversial statements regarding vaccinations, was addressing the media outside the Khera border where he had come to take stock of the situation of farmers' protest.

"Sickness leads to hospital and farmers' protest will lead to Parliament so both are different. If someone is sick then it's the job of the government," Tikait said.

He also stated he has written to the government to set up oxygen hospitals in villages. "We need that oxygen hospitals be set up. We have told the government that we will assist them in this pandemic. Government should control this," he said.

"Farmers won't go anywhere. We won't budge until MSP is given and government speaks to us. Six months is not enough for a movement to continue. We have learnt unity and a strong bond here so moving from here is now difficult," he asserted when asked about the long-standing protests against the farm laws.

When asked about the threat of COVID-19 amid the protests, he said, "let the Government open up vaccination centres here. The Government has the vaccines, but are blaming farmers for everything. Let them vaccinate everyone, we will also take the vaccines."

"Open up a centre here, the villagers, the farmers, the policemen, let everyone take the vaccines together. They don't have it hence they are lying," said Tikait while targeting the Central Government.

The protesting farmers refused to call off the protests despite the Delhi government announcing lockdown in the wake of the alarming surge in COVID-19 infections in the national capital. Two farmers from Punjab, who were part of the group protesting against the new farm laws, passed away with one of them found COVID positive, officials said on Wednesday.

Farmers' protest continues amid the threat of COVID-19

Thousands of farmers have been protesting for six months demanding a rollback of the three farm laws, despite the Centre staying the implementation of the farm laws for 18 months and giving repeated assurance on the continuance of the MSP mechanism. The Centre has also accommodated several other demands of farmers however, the farmers have been reluctant with their demand of repeal of the three new farm laws. Rakesh Tikait has given provocative statements on multiple occasions such as urging the farmers to burn their produce or even gherao the parliament. He had called for a tractor rally on Republic Day despite several requests to refrain from holding one, which ultimately led to Republic Day violence, injuring over 500 police personnel.

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Published May 20th, 2021 at 21:33 IST

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