Farmers’ protest: The battlefield shifts to Lakhimpur Kheri

The 300 days and more of simmering tensions between agitating farmers and the government over the agri laws enacted last September, erupted at Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh resulting in eight deaths. What are the three laws the farmer groups are protesting against? A wrap-up of the farmers' protest so far.

Gaon Connection
| Updated: October 4th, 2021

Four farmers have died in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence yesterday. Photo: Gaon Connection

Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh has become the latest battlefield for the farmers’ protests that has crossed 300 days since it was launched last November against the three farm laws legislated by the Indian parliament in September 2020.

Yesterday, on October 3, Uttar Pradesh’s Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya was visiting the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra’s village in Tikunia, Lakhimpur Kheri for a dangal (wrestling match), when local farmers and the supporters of the political leaders clashed leading to eight deaths.

Four farmers were mowed down by a car, and four more people, including three BJP members, were lynched.

Also Read: 8 dead, including four farmers and 3 BJP workers, in Lakhimpur Kheri violence

What began as an annual wrestling match in memory of the father of Ajay Kumar Mishra, also Member of Parliament of Kheri, ended in violence and death. There were allegations that Ashish (Monu) Mishra, the son of Ajay Kumar Mishra, was in the car that mowed down four farmers. But, the minister has denied these allegations. An FIR has howeer been filed against Ashish Mishra. 

Meanwhile, there are counter allegations from the BJP members that stones were pelted at their car, and the passengers were lynched by the farmers. 

Also Read: UP govt to give Rs 45 lakh and govt job to the families of every person who died in Lakhimpur Kheri violence

The farmers’ protest and the aftermath of the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri has taken a political turn as farmers, opposition party members and the ruling party slugged it out. Early next year, Uttar Pradesh will be going into polls.

These eight deaths in violent clashes in Lakhimpur Kheri district of election-bound Uttar Pradesh are expected to further intensify the farmer-government standoff over the three farm laws enacted by the Indian parliament last September. 

Also Read: After 8 deaths in Lakhimpur Kheri, India’s farmer-govt standoff set to explode in election-bound Uttar Pradesh

Gaon Connection has been following up on the farm laws and farmers protests for the past one year. Here is a quick recap of the three controversial laws and over 300 days of farmers’ protests.

The three farm laws

On November 26, 2020, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and from other parts of the country, formed the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) made up of nearly 40 farmers’ unions. They congregated at the west and north west border of Delhi-Haryana at Singhu and Tikri, where they have been ever since. 

The three contentious agri laws, passed in September 2020,  include the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside of the notified APMC market yards. 

Also Read: When Lakhimpur Kheri’s annual dangal turned deadly; eight people killed

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, gives farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price. 

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, is meant to remove commodities such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion and potato from the list of essential commodities and do away with the imposition of stock holding limits.

The central government claims these new laws will help get rid of middlemen and will double farmers’ income by 2022. 

While the government defended the laws saying they were beneficial to farmers, the latter declared they were anti-farmer and left them vulnerable to the mercy of big corporate companies. The farm laws, many of the protesting farmers feel, are a ‘death warrant’ to small and marginal farmers who they fear will be decimated by big corporates.

Also Read: Hope and Scepticism: The farmers and the Centre go into their fifth round of talks tomorrow. Will they make any headway?

However, the central government has constantly maintained that the agri-laws were forward looking and would benefit the farmers hugely. 

Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, maintained that, “Agricultural reforms will bring a revolution in the lives of the country’s farmers. These agriculture reform laws have been brought after thirty years of saadhana aur vimarsh (meditation and discussions).”

Farmers protesting against the three agri laws at Singhu border, Delhi. Photo: Amarjeet Kumar Singh

Discussions end in deadends

There  have been several rounds of talks between the protesting farmers and the central government, but they have all ended in a stalemate.

The government has offered to tweak the laws but not repeal them, while the farmers say they won’t back down unless the three laws are withdrawn entirely.

Also Read: Slogans, shabads and speeches: Farmers’ protest picks up steam. Will today’s meeting with the govt break the impasse?

Farmers protest

The two sites of the protest, Singhu and Tikri, have since turned into mini townships with bustling kitchens supplying endless cups of tea, langars cooking meals for the protesting farmers, shabad singing, political speeches, and more. 

The farmers have had continuous support from their villages where those who stayed back are looking after their farmlands. There are regular supplies of food that reach these sites too from back home.   

It has not been easy. Camping out in the bitter winter cold with next to no toilets, water or other sanitation facilities under the looming threat of the COVID 19 pandemic, has been a huge challenge, but the farmers have refused to back down. “We will go home only when the farm laws are repealed,” has been their refrain. 

Also Read: No Place To Go: But a lack of toilets is not going to keep them away, say women farmers gathered at Delhi’s borders

The recent events at Lakhimpur Kheri has set the cat amongst the pigeons as vested interests have jumped into the fray and turned them into a slug fest, significant in the light of the approaching elections in Uttar Pradesh. 

Meanwhile, according to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, more than 400 farmers have died since the anti-agri laws protests began 300 days ago. The eight lives lost in the Lakhimpur Kheri skirmish have just swelled that number.  

Gaon Connection survey on farm laws

Last October, Gaon Connection conducted a face-to-face rapid survey on ‘The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’ across 53 districts in 16 states of India.

As per the findings of this survey, released as ‘The Rural Report 2: The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’, and available on, every second farmer interviewed as part of the rural survey opposed the three new agri laws in the country, whereas 35 per cent supported these laws. 

However, of the 52 per cent opposing the agri acts, over 36 per cent were not informed about the details of these laws. Similarly, of the 35 per cent supporting the agri laws, almost half, or 18 per cent, were not informed about them.

Also Read: Lakhimpur Kheri: Akhilesh Yadav and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, two key opposition leaders, arrested; AAP’s Sanjay Singh detained

The biggest fear of these new agri laws among respondent farmers (57 per cent) is that they would now be forced to sell their crop at a lower price in the open market, while 33 per cent of farmers fear the government will end the system of minimum support price (MSP). 

Further, 59 per cent respondent farmers want the MSP system to be made a mandatory law in India. A bigger proportion of marginal and small farmers (37 per cent), who own less than five acres (two hectares) of land, supports these agri laws, when compared to medium and large farmers (31 per cent).

For more details on the survey and its findings, and to download The Rural Report 2: The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’ , log onto