Naresh Singh Tikait, the eldest son of Mahendra Singh Tikait, is the president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). He is the head of the Balyan Khap Panchayat, which he inherited from his father, who had become the Chaudhary (chief) of Balyan Khap at the age of eight.
Family and caste
Naresh Tikait belongs to the Jaat community.
Fathers and brothers
Naresh Tikait’s father, Mahendra Singh Tikait, was considered a messiah of farmers. The Jat peasant leader who led the Bharatiya Kisan Union for nearly 25 years died of bone cancer on May 15, 2011 at the age of 75.
Naresh Tikait’s mother’s name was Baljori Devi.
Naresh Tikait has three younger brothers named Rakesh Tikait, Surendra Tikait, and Narendra Tikait, and two sisters. Rakesh Tikait has been the national spokesperson for the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) since 1997.
Surendra Tikait is the manager of a sugar mill in Meerut, while the younger brother, Narendra Tikait, is in charge of agriculture.
Naresh Tikait’s son, Gaurav Tikait, is the youth president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.
Heading to Balyan Khap from Jaats
Balyan is the name of a union of Jaats from Raghuvanshi gotra found in western Uttar Pradesh and in some parts of Haryana. The head of Balyan Khap is known as Chaudhary. After the disappearance of Mahendra Singh Tikait in 2011, Naresh Singh Tikait took over from Balyan Khap Panchayat. Furthermore, the hereditary title “Tikait” used by Naresh and the male members of the Tikait family was initially conferred on the head of Baliyan Khap by Raja Harshavardhana, the Jat ruler of Thanesar in the 7th century. Since then, all the heads of the Baliyan Khap and their male relatives use it as a surname.
Farmers’ rights activism
Naresh Tikait took over the reins of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) after the death of his father in 2011. Since then, he has participated in and led many movements for farmers’ rights.
Kisan Kranti Yatra
In October 2018, as the head of BKU, Naresh Tikait called Kisan Kranti Yatra from Tikait Ghat in Haridwar to Delhi. This was done to pressure the union government to comply with various demands from farmers, including unconditional waiver of loans for farmers, liquidation of quotas by owners of sugar mills, higher prices for crops, free electricity for farms and a cut in diesel prices. Farmers also demanded the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee Report. When thousands of protesters reached the Delhi border, section 144 was imposed in east and northeast Delhi. More than 3,000 security personnel from the Delhi Police and UP Police were deployed to the area to prevent farmers from entering the national capital. Police had to use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Finally, the union’s government ministers met with Tikait and other peasant leaders and persuaded them to put an end to the agitation. Tikait and other leaders accepted the government’s guarantee to establish a committee that would examine the farmers’ demands, and the protest was therefore canceled.
2020-21 farmers protests
While his brother and national spokesperson for the BKU, Rakesh Singh Tikait, was one of the prominent farmer leaders leading the farmers’ agitation in Delhi, Naresh Tikait supported the movement from Muzaffarnagar. He used to visit the protest site from time to time.
On the morning of December 28, 2021, Naresh decided to suspend farmer agitation on the Ghazipur border in light of the violence that erupted at the farmers’ Republic Day tractor parade.
The president of the Bhartiya Kisan union, Naresh Tikait, during a panchayat, said that the protest at the Ghazipur border would be canceled. Meanwhile, Rakesh Tikait insists that the protest will continue. pic.twitter.com/W15f1ZYG3Q
– Piyush Rai (@Benarasiyaa) January 28, 2021
Before Naresh could officially call the BKU protesters from Delhi, a video of Rakesh Tikait breaking in front of media cameras went viral. Consequently, hundreds of BKU supporters gathered in front of Tikait’s home in Sisauli, and people from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh began to move towards the Ghazipur protest site. Rakesh Tikait’s tears proved to be an elixir for the weakened protests. At midnight, Naresh, who had previously agreed to leave the Ghazipur protest site, announced a mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar to reactivate the movement once again.
चौधरी महेंद्र सिंह टिकैत के बेटे और मेरे छोटे भाई राकेश टिकैत के ये आँसू व्यर्थ नहीं जाएंगे। कल सुबह महापंचायत होगी और अब हम इस आंदोलन को निर्णायक स्थिति तक पहुंचा कर ही दम लेंगे। pic.twitter.com/gSaqoi4xzk
– किसानों की आवाज़ (@KisanoKiAwaz) January 28, 2021
- Chaudhary Jagbir Singh, president of Rashtriya Kisan Morcha in Muzaffarnagar, was shot and killed on September 6, 2003 in the village of Alawalpur, UP. Former Minister Yograj Singh, son of Jagbir Singh, called Chaudhary Naresh Tikait along with two young men in the assassination plot. The case is still ongoing in the Muzaffarnagar court.
- Naresh Tikait was one of the named defendants in the FIRs filed on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots between Hindus and Muslims. Here is a video from 2013 showing Naresh Tikait inciting people to use violence against Muslims.
- In November 2018, Naresh Tikait made a controversial comment on love marriages saying that love marriages are unacceptable in Balyan Khap and they will never allow it. While speaking to media correspondents on the issue, Tikait said:
हम लड़कियों को पढ़ाएं, उनकी पढाई में 20-30 लाख रुपये खर्च करें और शादी वो कर लें अपनी मर्ज़ी से तो परिवार की तो किरकिरी हो गयी, परिवार तो बर्बाद हो गया। हम तो न्यू कहवें के जब हमने पढ़ाई लिखाई तो उसकी शादी भी तो हम ही करें। प्रेम विवाह बहुत गलत है, हम तो इसकी कदी भी मंजूरी कोनी देनेके। “
Facts / Trivia
- Although Naresh Tikait was appointed head of BKU after his father’s death (according to Khap’s rules, which says that only the eldest son can be the head), all key decisions of the organization are made by his younger brother. Rakesh Tikait.
- In August 2019, Naresh Tikait claimed that the people of his gotra Raghuvanshi are descendants of Lord Rama. He was one of the many people who claimed Lord Rama’s legacy.