Farmers' protests: AAP demands punishment for violence in Lakhimpur

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday lashed out at the Centre over the death of farmers during violence in Lakhimpur Kheri and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure justice for the families of the victims.

The AAP leader also demanded that the accused in the case be arrested and that Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra, whose son has been named as accused in the incident, be sacked.

Addressing a virtual press conference, he alleged that the “entire system” is trying to protect the killers of the farmers and asked the prime minister why nobody has been arrested so far in connection with the case.

“For the last one year, farmers have been sitting on a dharna. More than 600 farmers have died so far. And then farmers are crushed and killed by mowing them down under wheels. Why is there so much hatred against the farmers,” he questioned the prime minister.

The chief minister also asked Modi why Mishra has not yet been dismissed as Union minister of state for home affairs.

“Every citizen of this country is today demanding justice for the farmers. The decision is in your hands,” Kejriwal said appealing to the prime minister to intervene in the matter and also visit family members of the accused.

The entire nation wants that those accused of killing farmers be immediately arrested and Mishra be sacked from his ministerial post, he said.

Kejriwal attacked the Uttar Pradesh government for allegedly not allowing opposition party leaders to meet the family members of the victims.

“Pradhan mantri (prime minister) ji, on the one hand, the government is celebrating ‘Azadi Ka Mahotsav (festival of freedom)’ and on the other hand, opposition leaders are being arrested on their way to Lakhimpur.

What type of freedom is this? The British used to take such actions,” he said.

After initially denying permission to the leaders of political parties to reach Lakhimpur Kheri, meanwhile, the UP government allowed them to visit the district.

AAP MP Sanjay Singh, who was under detention at Biswan in Sitapur since the early hours of Monday, travelled to Lakhimpur Kheri and met the family members of the farmers killed in the violence.

Other AAP leaders, including Raghav Chadda and Harpal Singh, joined Singh there.

During the visit of the AAP delegation, Kejriwal spoke to a family member of one of the farmers, who was killed in violence, over phone, and expressed his condolences and solidarity.

“The entire nation is standing by you. All of us together will ensure that your family gets justice. You need not feel alone,” the Delhi chief minister said while speaking to a relative of the farmer killed in the violence.

Four of the eight dead in Sunday’s violence in Lakhimpur Kheri were farmers, allegedly knocked down by vehicles driven by BJP workers travelling to welcome Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to an event in the area.

The others, including BJP workers and their driver, were allegedly pulled out of the vehicles and lynched by the protesters.

The Uttar Pradesh Police has lodged a case against Mishra’s son, Ashish, but no arrest has been made so far.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait on Wednesday demanded the resignation of Union minister Ajay Mishra and the arrest of all accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, warning that a nationwide agitation will be launched if authorities failed to implement within a week the agreement made with the farmers here.

Tikait, who is among the prominent leaders of the agitation against the Centre’s agri laws, had brokered the agreement between the authorities and the farmers on October 4 here, after which they had ended their protest and the families of the four deceased farmers had agreed to their post-mortem.

After reaching an understanding, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar, in the presence of Tikait, had informed of the government’s decision to give Rs 45 lakh each to families of the victim farmers and set up a judicial probe under a retired High Court judge.

“Our protest has not ended. We will wait till eight days since the agreement and if the demands are not fulfilled a nationwide agitation would be launched,” Tikait told reporters at a Gurdwara in Lakhimpur city on Wednesday.

The deadline coincides with the 10th-day Antim-Ardas ceremony (post-death ritual) in the Sikh community.

An FIR under section 302 of IPC (murder) has already been registered against the union minister’s son Ashish Mishra and others in the incident in Tikonia police station.

Tikait said the pact with the government was reached after consulting the victims’ families and farmers, and everybody had expressed “satisfaction” over it.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha leader had reached the incident site in the wee hours on Monday, after four farmers were mowed down by an SUV when they were agitating against the visit of deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya for a function in the union minister’s native place on October 3.

Besides the four farmers, two BJP workers, the minister’s driver and a local journalist were also killed in the violence.

On Tuesday, Tikait visited the family of Gurvinder Singh, one of the four dead farmers, in Bahraich and backed their demand for a second post mortem which the government agreed to, and his last rites were performed this morning.

The mortal remains of the other three farmers were cremated on Tuesday.

“How can he (minister Mishra) remain a Union minister of Home Affairs when his own son is facing such a serious charge? ”The minister himself has been named in the FIR for his alleged role. For an unbiased probe in the matter, the Centre must sack the minister,” BKU media in-charge Dharmendra Malik told PTI.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), a major participant in the protests against the three central agri laws, also demanded the arrest of the minister’s son Ashish alias Monu Mishra.

“His son should be arrested immediately. We have asked that both these demands be met within seven days, otherwise, the BKU will stage a massive demonstration in Uttar Pradesh to seek justice,” Malik added.

A faction of BKU workers and supporters led by their national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait is currently staying put in Lakhimpur Kheri, which has now become the epicentre of the turf war among political parties in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

Mishra’s son Ashish is the only named accused in the FIR lodged at the Tikoniya police station in the district.

Besides him, 15-20 other “unidentified persons” are mentioned as accused in the FIR.

However, the minister has refuted the allegations of his son’s involvement in the episode that took place near his native Banbirpur village.

Meanwhile, Mishra on Wednesday attended the office in Delhi and met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the first time since a murder case was registered against his son on Sunday.

Mishra is understood to have briefed Shah about the Sunday incident in his home district of Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh.

he Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) on Wednesday warned the Centre and the UP government that it would launch a “big programme” if its demands for removal of MoS Ajay Mishra and arrest of his son were not fulfilled till the ‘antim ardas’ of farmers killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

The SKM, which is spearheading the farmers’ protests on Delhi borders, said it will not step back from its struggle for justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.

“The demands of SKM for sacking of Ajay Mishra from the Union government, arrest of his son, and resignation of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar are still pending,” the morcha said in a statement.

“The SKM issues an ultimatum to the UP and Union governments that if these demands are not met till the ‘antim ardas’ of the martyrs, a big programme will be announced,” it said.

Four of the eight dead in Sunday’s violence in Lakhimpur Kheri were farmers, allegedly knocked down by vehicles driven by BJP workers travelling to welcome Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to an event in the area.

The others, including BJP workers and their driver, were allegedly pulled out of the vehicles and lynched by the protesters.

The Uttar Pradesh Police has lodged a case against Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra but no arrest has been made so far.

“The SKM warns the Modi government to take immediate action against the minister, or face strong resistance. The morcha also condemns Modi’s silence on the shocking developments in Lakhimpur Kheri,” the statement said.

The outfit lashed out at the UP government for registering a case against farmer leader Tajinder Singh Virk, who was injured in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.

“Video clips from ground zero clearly show that Virk was attacked by the vehicle from behind when he was peacefully walking on the road, and that later, as he was bleeding and lying on the road in a dazed state, others were running to help him,” the SKM said.

It said registering an FIR against him is a “cruel joke” and demanded that the case be withdrawn immediately.