Lucknow: To press for the demand for the dismissal of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra from the Union Cabinet, farmers led by the All India People’s Front and Mazdoor Kisan Manch began an indefinite strike on Tuesday morning at four district headquarters. Mishra’s son is accused of mowing down four farmers in Tikonia village of Lakhimpur Kheri district in Uttar Pradesh.
Mishra’s son Ashish was arrested in connection with the death of four farmers and some others who were run over by a vehicle in the convoy of the Union Minister and the violence that followed.
The farmer unions, led by S. R Darapuri, alleged that the incident amounted to nothing less than murder. The government should take action against Ajay Mishra and all those involved in the incident. they urged during their strike at district headquarters of Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Sonbhadra and Gonda.
“Our indefinite strike will continue till the minister is sacked as he is responsible for the murder of farmers. Demanding sacking from cabinet and arrest of Ajay Mishra, we will hold a ‘mahapanchayat’ in Lakhimpur Kheri on November 9 and preparations for it is going on,” they said.
Brij Bihari, general secretary of Mazdoor Kisan Manch (MKM), who has a stronghold among marginal farmers in Sitapur and Kheri, said, “Even the Supreme Court has chided the ruling UP government on the issue and how the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government is trying to save the culprits of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.” Bihai further told Newsclick, “It is clear that justice cannot be achieved till Ajay Mishra is sacked as the Minister of State for Home Affairs,”
The MKM general secretary also condemned the manner in which the current BJP-led government was treating the agitating farmers who had been raising their legitimate demands.
“We have also been demanding at the protest site that the due process of discussion with the farmers should be initiated because they have been sitting on the border for the last ten months. We demand that these three contentious farm laws, imposed without any consultation, should be taken back and Minimum Support Price (MSP) should be given as a legal right of every farmer,” Bihari added.
The farmer unions have also organised outreach programmes where their workers visit households every day and organise demonstrations in 50 villages of Kheri and Sitapur districts demanding Mishra’s resignation.
“We visited in 50 villages of Sitapur including Hempur, Godaria, Mohiuddinpur, Jareli, and Daulatpur, Ganeshpur, Rampurwa and Bhagautipur in Kheri district. We are meeting farmers, labourers and common people, campaigning against Ajay Mishra and his role in farmers’ killings,” an organiser told Newsclick.
Accusing BJP government of “shielding” Union Minister Mishra, Darapuri said, “We are holding meetings in the village and raising the Kheri incident. We are telling farmers how the BJP has come down to killing its opponents; it used to be fabricating opponents in false cases earlier,” he said. He alleged that Ajay Mishra was the key conspirator in the violence and should be arrested for interrogation. “Though Mishra’s name is mentioned in the FIR, the police have removed his name from the accused column,” he said.
KISAN MAHAPANCHAYAT IN SITAPUR
To go full throttle in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, a 'kisan mahapanchayat' is scheduled to be held in Sitapur district on November 9. The mahapanchayat would address issues related to Lakhimpur Kheri violence, in which four farmers and a journalist were killed, and the three new agriculture laws of the Centre.
The venue for the “mahapanchayat”, held under the banner of All India People’s Front and MKM along with multiple regional unions, would be the government college compound, the farmer union informed Newsclick. The unions added that farmers from across the state and country, including Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Maharashtra, would arrive at Sitapur on November 9 to mount the pressure on the government to remove Ajay Mishra and facilitate his arrest.
The organisers said that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a collaborative platform of farm unions, had also backed their call for the mahapanchayat.
“The SKM has released in its advisory of state committee about ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ which is scheduled to be held on November 9. The Sitapur rally will be on the lines of the Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat, which saw the participation of scores of farmers, locals, trade unions, civil society groups, writers and social thinkers,” Darapuri added.
Asked why Sitapur, he said, “We have a stronghold in Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri and Sonbhadra regions. By organising demonstrations and mahapanchayats, we are mobilising farmers and appealing to them to not vote for the BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls.”
This is the second such ‘mahapanchayat’ to be held in Sitapur. Earlier on September 20, under the banner of SKM, an anti-farm laws rally was organised, the first-ever in the Awadh region. Newsclick had reported on the previous rally from the ground where a large number of farmers from the region and adjoining districts joined the mahapanchayat.
Meanwhile, the SKM also announced that farmers would block train tracks on October 18 and hold a mahapanchayat in state capital, Lucknow, on October 28.
“As long as Ajay Mishra continues in his post, there cannot be a fair investigation of the Lakhimpur incident. In such a situation, he will have to resign from his post. Otherwise, the farmers will agitate. A mahapanchayat in this regard is to be organised in Lucknow,” a Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader from Lucknow told Newsclick.