It took only the death in custody of a 25-year-old Jat man in Budhana village, Muzaffarnagar, to bring back visions of a farmer rebellion in western UP. The agitation, led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Mahender Singh Tikait, culminated in thousands of farmers laying siege to the Budhana police station for three days last week. When the cops on duty fled, the protesters opened a temporary BKU office there. Finally, persuasion, not force, made the farmers vacate the police station.
The scale of the protest has set the alarm bells ringing. The administration fears trouble in the coming days given the burgeoning discontent among farmers. In an effort to pacify the protesters, the state government promptly transferred the DM and suspended the ssp and the DSP. However, the agitating farmers relented only when the administration agreed to appoint a subdivisional magistrate of their choice to probe the death.