Lakhimpur Kheri: There was pain, grief, and anger in Lakhimpur Kheri Monday, with the families of the four farmers killed the previous day — Nacchattar Singh (60), Daljeet Singh (35), Lovepreet Singh (20), and Gurvinder Singh (19) — demanding strict action against Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni and his son Ashish Mishra.
The farmers were among the eight people killed in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri Sunday, with four others dying in clashes following violence after a convoy of three SUVs, including one allegedly owned by Ashish Mishra, hit a group of protesting farmers. A ninth victim, local journalist Raman Kashyap, succumbed to his injuries Monday.
The families insist that Ashish Mishra was in the convoy that hit the protesters, but fled with police help.
Speaking to ThePrint, Jagjeet Singh, brother of Daljeet Singh, said the farmers had planned to carry out peaceful protests in the Tikunia area of Kheri and wanted to show black flags to Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who was scheduled to visit Banveer Pur, the village of Mishra’s parents, for an event. Mishra is the Member of Parliament from Lakhimpur Kheri.
“We were categorically told by the administration that we could carry out our protest peacefully but soon a convoy came from nowhere and it hit my brother and he fell on the road,” Jagjeet Singh alleged. “He was still breathing but then another SUV from the convoy ran over him as he lay on the road and he died. This is cold-blooded murder and the administration is trying to cover up. The police that should have protected us did not do anything. Is protesting a crime now?”
The other families also maintained that the protests were set to conclude when the convoy attacked them.
“We were told that his (Maurya’s) route had been changed so there was no point in showing the flags. Our protest was also almost over and an announcement was being made to wind it up. Barely 15 minutes before the protest concluded, a convoy of three cars approached us from behind and so none of us noticed them,” claimed Sukhwinder Singh, father of Gurvinder Singh. “The vehicles were speeding at 80 or 90 kmph and the roads are not made for such speed.”
“Suddenly they ran over a few of the protesters and we saw Monu Mishra (Ashish Mishra) was part of the convoy,” he added. “My son got hold of one of them in the convoy; that is when they shot him dead.”
According to Maskeen Singh, a relative of Gurvinder, soon after they shot the latter, those in the convoy, allegedly including Ashish Mishra, started to flee. “Some shots were fired in the air and the police helped them get away through the farms,” Maskeen claimed.
“There are video clips that show Mishra was there but we are unable to share them as the internet has been shut completely,” he added.
Internet services have indeed been shut down in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Union MoS Mishra, however, put out a video in which he claimed that some “unruly elements” among the farmers attacked the convoy.
“Three of our workers and a driver were killed, and cars were set on fire in Lakhimpur Kheri,” he alleged. “We’re going to get an FIR registered.”
“We had this information that some farmers were peacefully protesting…Our route was diverted,” he added. “During the same time, some unruly elements hidden among farmers attacked BJP workers’ cars with lathis. We have a video of it.”
Mishra also alleged that some terror outfits were behind the incident. “Since the beginning of the farmers’ agitation, many terror outfits including Babbar Khalsa have been trying to create a chaotic situation. This incident is a result of that,” he claimed.
Ashish Mishra told ANI that he was not part of the convoy. “I was at Banwaripur from 9 am until the end of the event. Allegations against me are completely baseless and I demand judicial inquiry of this matter and culprits should get punished,” he said.
Families want a thorough probe
The families now want a thorough probe in the matter and action against the Mishra father and son. They also point out that Ajay Mishra had recently allegedly said he would discipline the farmers in “two minutes”.
“He should have resigned as the minister but he is still there. How can we expect a fair probe? He should be immediately sacked,” said Jagdeep Sandhu, the son of Nacchattar Singh. “My father was the first one to be hit. My brother, who is with the Border Security Force (BSF), had taken leave and had come here to spend time with him and now our father is no more.”
ThePrint contacted DSP Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, circle officer, Nighasan, who said an FIR had been registered in the incident and Ashish Mishra has been named. When asked to comment on the allegations of the families that the police helped Ashish Mishra and others escape, Jaiswal said he was on leave Sunday and would not be able to comment on that.
Protests at Lakhimpur were in solidarity with farmers
The protesters had gathered Sunday at the Tikunia area to extend support to the farmers’ agitation. “As we could not go to Delhi, we wanted to gather at one place and express our solidarity. We are all farmers and are against the black laws that this government is forcing upon us,” said Maskeen Singh, the relative of Gurvinder Singh.
When asked about the politicians who were not allowed to enter Lakhimpur, he said while no one should be barred from coming and expressing their condolences, the protesters would also not allow anyone to politicise their agitation.
“Why should anyone be stopped from coming here? But at the same time, we will also not allow politicians to use us for their benefit. We are against the farm laws and those who support us in this are welcome,” added Maskeen Singh.
The situation in the area remained tense throughout the day as opposition leaders including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Akhilesh Yadav were barred from entering. They slammed the Yogi government for the “inhuman” incident.
“Yogi Adityanath had said gundo ka raj nahi rahega. Uttar Pradesh gunda-mukt rahega, lekin inhone to poori gundagardi dikha di (Yogi Adityanath had said that there will be no rule of goons in UP. But they themselves are indulging in it),” Maskeen alleged.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)