Amaan Bali: Making Sense of Lakhimpur Kheri As BJP Minister's Son Accused Of Murdering Farmers

Large groups of farmers continue to converge towards Lakhimpur Kheri as news travels about the deaths and potential cover-ups. 

Amaan Bali
October 4, 2021 | 3.5 min. read | Original Reporting 

The situation in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, remains tense as internet shutdowns make it difficult to gather on the ground updates. 

Farmers continue to protest across India and have begun to intensify demonstrations after various reports suggest Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra, ran over and killed multiple protesting farmers with his car. 

According to eyewitness accounts, including both farmers and officers, Ashish Mishra drove over farmers protesting a visit to the area by Minister Ajay Mishra due to an earlier inflammatory speech calling for violence against demonstrators. Ashish Mishra was traveling in a convoy at the time, which included the Minister, that was being blocked by protestors.

Angry farmers responded to the killings by burning two cars that appear to have been part of the convoy. 

Police have stated that they are investigating the incident and have registered a case against several people including Ashish Mishra. 

Ajay Mishra maintains that his son is innocent.

The death toll has now climbed to nine, including four farmers - Gurwinder Singh, 19, Lovepreet Singh, 20, Daljeet Singh, 35, Nacattar Singh, 60. The remaining five include four BJP workers and Raman Kashyap, a journalist that was covering the protest.

Section 144 has been imposed in the area, which prohibits the assembly of four or more people in an area, as well as special restrictions on the entry of Punjabis.

“We’ll intensify our agitation in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country to highlight the plight of innocent farmers,” Dharmendra Malik said, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). Various voices have called for a court-supervised investigation of the violence as many fear a cover-up by the BJP UP government.

Some accounts suggest Ashish Mishra allegedly fired bullets at the farmers alongside ramming them with his car. The farmers managed to get a hold of some of the participating vehicles while Ashish Mishra allegedly escaped by foot and then on a motorcycle with police support. 

Large groups of farmers continue to converge towards Lakhimpur Kheri as news travels about the deaths and potential cover-ups. 

BKU’s Gurnam Singh Charuni urged all the farmers to reach Lakhimpur Kheri. He was arrested by UP police en route to the site. 

Rakesh Tikait of BKU also moved towards Lakhimpur Kheri with his contingent. Both Tikait and Charuni, along with SKM, called on the farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri to not cremate the bodies of four dead farmers until justice is delivered. The mourning families of four farmers camped on the road with the bodies.

Many opposition politicians including Priyanka Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadhav, Deepinder Hooda were detained traveling towards the site as well. Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and his entourage were also arrested.

The main political parties of Punjab including Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Congress, and Aam Admi Party (AAP) all condemned the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and called for justice for farmers. 

SAD has announced that it will send a delegation to Lakhimpur Kheri as well. Similarly, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has tweeted that he will go to Lakhimpur to express solidarity with the families of the dead. However, the UP government has ordered that no political leader would be allowed to land in Lucknow. 

Talks between the administration and farmers began in earnest after Rakesh Tikait reached Lakhimpur Kheri. The farmers under the umbrella body of SKM had already announced the gherao of DC offices across the nation, with memorandums were also presented.

The farmers demanded that one crore compensation be given to the families of dead farmers. A government job for kin and the filing of an FIR against Minister Mishra and his son under Section 302 were other main demands. The farmers at Tikonia also demanded that Mishra be sacked from his Ministry.

After continued talks for hours, the AGP, Law and Order, Prashant Kumar announced that police has registered an FIR at Tikonia police station under IPC sections 302, 304 A, 147, 148, 149, 120 B, and 279 against Ashish Mishra, son of Minister Ajay Mishra and several others.

It was also announced that ₹45 lakh will be given as compensation to the families of the dead along with a government job. The authorities also ensured that the culprits will be arrested within eight days and that the inquiry of the entire incident will be carried out by a retired high court judge.

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Amaan Bali is born and raised in Kashmir. He is an entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book, “Growing up on the right side of Kashmir History”. You can find him on Twitter at @amaanbali.


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