Ghaziabad: Farmers at the Ghazipur border on Friday organised a ‘havan’ to pray for Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other defence personnel who were killed in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu. Besides farmers, national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Rakesh Tikait, BKU Uttar Pradesh president Rajbir Singh Jadaun and other office-bearers attended the ‘havan’, according to the state vice president of the farmers’ group Rajbir Singh.
A Mi-17V5 helicopter carrying Gen Rawat, his wife and 11 other defence personnel crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
As India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Rawat was tasked with bringing in theatre command and jointness among the three services, and he was pushing it with a tough approach and specific timelines over the last two years.
Known to be forthright, fearless, and blunt at times, the 63-year-old strongly backed a policy of hot pursuit in dealing with cross-border terrorism and militancy in Jammu and Kashmir when he was the Army Chief between 2016 and 2019.
Farmers were also busy dismantling the encampments they set up at the protest site over the past year as they got ready to head back home.
Singh said the community kitchens will be operational till the protest site is completely cleared. The Ghazipur border is most likely to be vacated by Saturday, he said.
Meanwhile, a National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) official said National Highway 9 will be opened for commuters after a technical inspection of the stretch where the farmers were camping for over a year and its pillars is completed.
Once the farmers vacate the highway, NHAI engineers will conduct an inspection and repair the damaged portions, if any, Arvind Kumar, project director, NHAI, told PTI.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which spearheaded the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s farm laws, on Thursday decided to suspend the movement and announced that farmers will go back home on Saturday from the protest sites on Delhi’s borders. The agitation, which began in November last year, mainly drew farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.