Naresh Singh Tikait, the elder son of Mahendra Singh Tikait, is the president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). He is the head of the Balyan Khap Panchayat, which he inherited from his father who had become the Chaudhary (head) of Balyan Khap at the age of eight.
Family & Caste
Parents & Siblings
Naresh Tikait’s father, Mahendra Singh Tikait, was considered a messiah of farmers. The Jat farmer leader who headed the Bharatiya Kisan Union for nearly 25 years died of bone cancer on 15 May 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 is the national spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) since 1997.
Surendra Tikait is the manager of a sugar mill in Meerut, while the youngest brother, Narendra Tikait, handles farming.
Naresh Tikait’s son, Gaurav Tikait, is the youth president of Bharatiya Kisan Union.
Heading Balyan Khap of Jaats
Balyan is the name of a union of Jaats of Raghuvanshi gotra found in Western Uttar Pradesh and in some parts of Haryana. The head of Balyan Khap is referred to as Chaudhary. After the demise of Mahendra Singh Tikait in 2011, Naresh Singh Tikait took charge of Balyan Khap Panchayat. Also, the hereditary title “Tikait” used by Naresh and the male members of the Tikait family was initially conferred to the head of Baliyan Khap by Raja Harshavardhana, the Jat ruler of Thanesar in the 7th century. Since then, it is being used by every head of the Baliyan Khap and his male family members as their surname.
Activism For Farmers’ Rights
Naresh Tikait took over the reigns of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) after the demise of his father in 2011. Since then, he has participated and led many movements for the rights of farmers.
Kisan Kranti Yatra
Eventually, the union government ministers met Tikait and other farmer leaders and persuaded them to end the agitation. Tikait and other leaders agreed to the government’s assurance on setting up a committee that would look at the demands of farmers, and thus, the protest was called off.
2020-21 Farmers’ protests
While his brother and BKU national spokesperson, Rakesh Singh Tikait, was one of the prominent farmers’ leaders leading the farmers’ agitation in Delhi, Naresh Tikait supported the movement from Muzaffarnagar. He used to visit the protest site occasionally.
On the morning of 28 December 2021, Naresh decided to call off the farmers agitation on Ghazipur border in the light of the violence that erupted in the Republic Day tractor parade by farmers.
Bhartiya Kisan union president Naresh Tikait during a panchayat said the protest at Ghazipur border would be called off. Meanwhile, Rakesh Tikait insists the protest will continue. pic.twitter.com/W15f1ZYG3Q
— Piyush Rai (@Benarasiyaa) January 28, 2021
Before Naresh could officially call back the BKU protestors from Delhi, a video of Rakesh Tikait breaking down infront of media cameras went viral. Consequently, hundreds of BKU supporters gathered outside Tikait’s house in Sisauli, and people from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh started moving towards the Ghazipur protest site. Rakesh Tikait’s tears proved to be an elixir for the weakening protests. At the midnight, Naresh, who had earlier agreed to vacate the Ghazipur protest site, announced a mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar to revive 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 dead on 6 September 2003 in village Alawalpur, UP. Former minister Yograj Singh, son of Jagbir Singh, named Chaudhary Naresh Tikait along with two young men in the murder conspiracy. The case is still going on in the Muzaffarnagar court.
- Naresh Tikait was one of the accused named in the FIRs filed over 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 topic, 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।”
- Although Naresh Tikait was appointed as the head of BKU after the demise of his father (as per the rules of Khap, which says that only the eldest son can be the head), all the key decisions of the organisation are taken 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 individuals claiming Lord Rama’s legacy NDTV