Lucknow: Preparations are under way on war footing to relaunch an agitation in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri to push for the dismissal and arrest of junior home minister Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’. The Union minister’s son Ashish Mishra is the key accused in the October 3 violence that left eight people dead in the district.
A meeting in this regard was called on Friday by the multiple farmers’ unions in Lakhimpur Kheri to decide the future course of action, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) general secretary Mukut Singh informed Newsclick.
“On the call of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, farmers’ leaders including Rakesh Tikait and AIKS leaders will go to Lakhimpur Kheri tomorrow to meet the people and also family members of those died during the incident. We will decide the place for the agitation,” Singh told Newsclick. He added that those injured during the incident have not received a single penny of compensation. Besides, dozens of local farmers were slapped with severe charges under the Indian Penal Code, but the cases have not been withdrawn as per the assurances given by the Centre.
Daleet Singh Randhawa, a local farmer, told Newsclick that the fresh protests by the farmers will demand action against MoS Ajay Mishra in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, withdrawal of cases against farmers, and compensation to kin of those who died or got injured during the previous protests.
“If our demands are not met before the first phase of Assembly elections, the entire farmer unions will carry out a door-to-door campaign against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its legislators. We will do our best to defeat the fascist government to throw them from power as they understand this language,” he added.
Ahead of the 2022 polls, incumbent Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is struggling against a barrage of negative perceptions amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of lack of health facilities, oxygen shortage, and bodies floating in rivers, etc. Senior BKU leaders from UP say “it is obvious” that the ramifications of the farmers’ agitation will be felt in their home state and neighbouring Uttarakhand, which too has a BJP government.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farm unions that spearheaded the farmers’ protest on against the Centre’s three farm laws, on Saturday announced an agitation from Kheri on January 21 with a call for voting against the ruling BJP.
Four farmers and a journalist died when an SUV owned by Ajay Mishra ran them over from behind in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3. In the ensuing violence, three more people — two of whom were BJP workers and one was the driver of the car — were killed. Ashish Mishra has been in jail since October 9, 2021.
“We will start a protest at the site where the farmers were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri from January 21 if the government fails to accept our demand to remove Teni,” Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said after a meeting of farm unions.
In a statement, the SKM said a permanent protest would be organised at Lakhimpur Kheri against the “brazen insensitivity” of the ruling BJP in the case and its failure to remove MoS Mishra.
The SKM also gave a call to observe a nationwide “Day of Betrayal” on January 31 against the government’s “reneging on its assurances to the farmers”.
“To protest this betrayal to the farmers, the SKM has decided that on 31st January, a Day of Betrayal will be observed across the country,” the statement read.
“If the government does not accept our demands before January 21, we will visit every village in Uttar Pradesh to tell people about their anti-farmer policies,” Tikait added.
Meanwhile, political observers feel that the farmers’ agitation in Kheri and BJP leaders switching to Samajwadi Party at the same time is an indication of the public mood. “Dissatisfaction against Yogi Adityanath Government on various fronts is out in open,” an observer told Newsclick.