Protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri have alleged that at least four farmers, including one journalist were killed and several others were injured after being deliberately run over. The incident took place during a protest against Uttar Pradesh’s deputy chief minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the Lakhimpur Kheri district on October 3.
According to another source, at least eight people were killed during the farmers’ protest over the three controversial farm regulations. According to a local police official, the violence erupted only minutes before deputy CM Maurya’s visit to Banbirpur village. He said that farmers protesting the new agricultural rules had blocked the route in order to prevent the deputy CM from visiting. Further, a group of unidentified individuals allegedly opened fire on the farmers. They were reportedly enraged after two SUVs allegedly belonging to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers collided with them, badly injuring many farmers. In retaliation, the farmers reportedly set fire to the two cars.
A murder case has been filed against Ashish Misra and several others involved in the death of at least eight people. According to the UP government, a retired High Court judge will investigate the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri. Additionally, the state government has announced that it will provide compensation of ₹45 lakhs and a government job to the families of the farmers killed due to the violence. Those who were injured will receive ₹10 lakhs.
Farmers were reportedly furious with Mishra over his earlier statement that there were just “10-15 protesters” and that “two minutes would be enough to make them fall in line”.
The protesters had been standing in the middle of the road when the minister’s motorcade allegedly ran over them, killing two and injuring others, according to the farmers’ unions. In response, the accused’s father, union Minister of State for Home Affairs – Ajay Kumar Mishra – has denied the allegations and said that his son was not in the car at the time of the incident. According to him, the farmers threw stones at his vehicle, causing it to lose control and ram into the protesters. Three members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and their driver were reportedly beaten to death in the violence that followed
“My son wasn’t present at the spot. There were miscreants who attacked workers with sticks and swords. If my son would’ve been there, he wouldn’t have come out alive. They’ve killed people and set cars on fire. We have video evidence,” the minister told ANI.
With the opposition parties blaming the BJP for it, the incident has sent a massive political storm raging across the country.
Responses From The Political Front
In a statement, UP’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath referred to the incident as unfortunate.
“Chief Minister had expressed grief in the Lakhimpur incident. He called the incident very unfortunate. Uttar Pradesh government will investigate the matter in detail and will take strict actions against the culprits,” read to an official statement by the Uttar Pradesh government.
In the meantime, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has called for a murder inquiry to be launched against Ashish Mishra. The party has written to President Ram Nath Kovind asking him to take action against the perpetrators of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. In the letter, the SKM requested that the union minister, Ajay Kumar Mishra, be immediately fired and a case be filed against him for inciting violence and spreading communal hatred. It appealed that Mishra’s son and others related to the attack be charged under Section 302 (murder) and arrested immediately, and that a Special Investigation Team under the supervision of the Supreme Court conduct the investigation.
On October 4, a day after the farmers’ deaths in the violence, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the farmers will win their fight for justice in Lakhimpur Kheri. “Priyanka, I know that you will not retreat. They fear your courage. We will ensure that the country’s ‘annadatas’ win this non-violent fight for justice,” he said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag “NoFear”.
Meanwhile, All-India Congress’ general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also alleged that the BJP is crushing the farmers of the country. “The BJP government practices the politics of crushing the farmers and finishing them,” she said on Twitter. Moreover, she released a video message alleging that this country belongs to the farmers and not to the BJP. According to reports, she traveled to Lakhimpur to express her sympathy for the farmers injured in the violent clashes. Congress’ state president, Ajay Kumar Lallu told PTI that Priyanka Gandhi and the party’s MP Deepender Hooda were detained at around 5 am in Sitapur in an effort to prevent them from meeting the families of the victims.
Read more: Farmers’ Protest: Justified Or An Unnecessary Impasse?
Akhilesh Yadav, the president of the Samajwadi Party (SP), was also detained on Monday while sitting on a dharna in Lucknow in response to the violence after he was not disallowed from going to Lakhimpur. After heavy security was put up outside his home and police trucks were placed to block the road, he sat on a dharna with party leaders Ram Gopal Yadav, Anand Bhadauria, and others. A large police presence was deployed in the area as hundreds of party workers gathered outside the house.
Sanjay Singh, an Aam Aadmi Party MP, was stopped by the UP Police in Sitapur on the morning of October 4. Singh is still at the spot and has refused to leave. Chhattisgarh CM Baghel slammed the UP government for not allowing him to land at Lucknow airport. Baghel was scheduled to visit Lakhimpur Kheri. The UP government has requested the Lucknow airport authority to prohibit Baghel’s and Punjab’s deputy chief minister, Sukhjinder S. Randhawa’s arrivals. Asserting that the incident is barbaric, West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee said that a delegation of five TMC MPs will meet the families of the victims.
According to officials, mobile internet services have been suspended in parts of the violence-hit district, where restrictions under CrPC section 144, which prohibits meetings of four or more people, have also been imposed.