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Farmer leader Tikait dies

Monday May 16, 2011 08:56:02 AM, IANS

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Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh): Mahendra Singh Tikait, a prominent north Indian farmers' leader and founder president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), died here Sunday morning, his family said. He was 76.

Tikait was suffering from bone cancer. The end came at his son Rajesh's residence here.

Thousands of farmers, politicians and social workers poured in to pay their respects to Tikait, who enjoyed a strong following in this region.

According to his son, Tikait's funeral will be held his native village Sisauli at 11 a.m on Monday.

Tikait's death was condoled by top political leaders of the country including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"Chaudhary Tikait's commitment to the welfare of farmers and to rural India was deep and unswerving. His work was a powerful influence across the country and inspired the formation of many other organisations devoted to the cause of farmers," the prime minister said in his message to Tikait's eldest son Naresh Pal Tikait.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati described Tikait as a "true and committed leader of farmers".

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit also condoled Takait's passing away.

Born Oct 6, 1935, Tikait emerged as a powerful farmer leader in the agriculturally rich western Uttar Pradesh in 1987 when he raised his voice for the cause of sugarcane growers.

Eventually, he was called by then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Narain Dutt Tiwari for talks, which resolved the crisis.

His last formidable show of strength came in 2010, when he staged a massive panchayat in Muzaffarnagar to oppose moves in favour of intra-gotra (sub-caste) marriages.

The farmer community, largely dominated by Jats in western Uttar Pradesh, is deeply wedded to their age old social tradition of not allowing marriages within the same gotra of a particular caste.




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