Lakhimpur Kheri violence leaves 8 dead; how clashes took a political turn

After the deaths of eight people, including four farmers and three BJP workers yesterday in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, there has been a new twist in the farmer politics in the state which is soon going to polls.

Arvind Shukla
| Updated: October 4th, 2021

8 dead, including four farmers, in Lakhimpur Kheri violence. All photos: Gaon Connection

Nighasan, Uttar Pradesh

The tussle that started with protests against the arrival of ministers for an annual wrestling competition is turning into a political tussle in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh. After the deaths of eight people, including four farmers and three BJP workers yesterday in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, there has been a new twist in the farmer politics in the state which is soon going to polls.

It is reported that four farmers were killed when the driver of the vehicle carrying the son of Union Minister Ajay Kumar Mishra “Teni” mowed down farmers protesting at the clash site. Thereafter, three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and the driver are claimed to have been lynched by the mob.

“Some elements in farmers, who were protesting, showed black flags and pelted stones on the car which turned turtle. Two farmers came under the car and died. Three BJP workers and the driver of the car were beaten to death by some people present there,” Union minister Mishra was quoted as saying.

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

Farmers have alleged that the driver of the car carrying the minister’s son mowed down a group of farmers as he tried to swerve away from the crowd. However, the Union Minister has denied the presence of his son at the clash site.

Farmer leader and National Spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union Rakesh Tikait along with his supporters reached Lakhimpur Kheri a few hours after the deaths of protesting farmers was reported. In view of the incident, Tikait and ten other farmers held a meeting. Lakhimpur District Magistrate and SP were also present in the meeting. After the meeting, a copy of the FIR [First Information Report] was sought, only after that further discussion is expected to be held.

“We demand that the minister should be sacked and the minister’s son should be arrested and an action should be taken under Section 120B against the minister. A compensation of one crore rupees [Rs 10 million] each and government jobs should be given to the families of the deceased farmers and Justice be served. Till then neither the dead bodies [of farmers] will be cremated nor post-mortem will be conducted,” he said.

Many farmer leaders including Tikait have sat in protest. Terming it as ‘self defence’, Tikait has expressed grief over the death of the three BJP workers and the driver killed in the violence.

Meanwhile, a video circulating on social media shows that the Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was on her way to the clash site, was arrested in Hargaon today on October 4. She was reportedly stopped by the police several times on her way to Lakhimpur Kheri, thereafter she started walking to the clash site. However, as per the videos shared by the Congress party workers it is not clear how far she walked. So far, there is no official statement by the UP police on her arrest.

In a statement yesterday Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityananth has termed the Lakhimpur incident “unfortunate”. The state government will go into depth and expose elements involved in the incident and will take strict action against them, said the press statement.

Yesterday, Uttar Pradesh’s Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya visited the Union minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra’s village in Tikunia when the clash between the farmers protesting the three central farm laws and the local political leaders occurred. Earlier, Union Minister Ajay Kumar Mishra had said that it would not take two minutes to better the protesting farmers if they faced them. “Saamana karo aake hum aapko sudhar denge, do minute nahi lagega,” the minister was heard saying at a public meeting in a viral video.

Close to the clash site is Guru Nanak Dev Academy, where hundreds of farmers are protesting. A meeting of farmer leaders is going on with the administration. One of the farmers, Akhilesh Verma, waiting outside the room where the meeting is going on, told Gaon Connection: “The minister was continuously making false statements for 10 days, on the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha.” The 33-year-old farmer is a resident of Bilraya village, 10 kilometres from the Academy.

“We were to show a black flag to Keshav Prasad Maurya [Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh]. But because of the protest, Keshav ji [helicopter carrying him] did not land on the helipad and the main wrestling match could not happen. His ego was hurt. He wanted to show that if you would protest against us then we would do something against you. He came with three vehicles and firing was started. One of the vehicles escaped but two got trapped. Our forty farmers were injured,” he said. Gaon Connection could not independently verify the series of events.

“We had given our vote to Teni [Ajay Kumar Mishra] because we do not have personal ill will against him,” 50-year-old Hoshiyar Singh, who was wearing a black turban, told Gaon Connection. Singh’s home is close to the village of Union Minister Mishra.

“Every year, a wrestling match is organised on October 2 in the name of his father. We go to watch the match every year because we have no ill will against him. Our fight is against the central government’s agricultural laws. But Teni had challenged the farmers so we were protesting. Every time some leader or minister comes to watch the wrestling. This time Keshav Prasad Maurya was coming. We were protesting against him,” he said.

Apart from Lakhimpur, farmers from Shahjahanpur, Pilibhit, Sitapurdistricts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are also protesting in the wake of the deaths of farmers in the violence yesterday.

This is a developing story; more details awaited.

Also Read: Lakhimpur Kheri violence: “Four farmers dead, more than a dozen injured”: Yogendra Yadav