Lakhimpur Kheri: A Year on, Deceased Farmers' Families See no Hope for Justice
Bahraich/Lakhimpur: A crisply ironed turban, a pile of folded clothes, polished black shoes, and a family picture kept neatly within a broken wardrobe—that’s all there is left of the 35-year-old farmer, Daljeet Singh, who was died in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence on October 3 last year. He may be gone but his wife Paramjit Kaur returns to the creaky wardrobe every day to relive the memories of her husband known for his polite nature and endearing smile.
“Our whole life has changed in one year. He was the sole breadwinner of our family. We still hope for justice,” Kaur told NewsClick, as she remembers the last day she had bid Dalijit goodbye with a box of food as he left for the farmer' protest in Lakhimpur.
Apart from his wife, Daljit is survived by a son and a daughter. Son Rajdeep had witnessed his father’s death who was among those allegedly crushed by a speeding Thar SUV.
The families’ grief still engulfs them. Calling it the ‘blackest day’ of their lives, the deceased's daughter says she still spends nights sobbing for her innocent father who was "crushed to death by a minister's car".
Daljit Singh, a native of Banjara Tanda village in Bahraich district, was among four farmers and a journalist, who were allegedly mowed down by a car driven allegedly by the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, who was travelling to welcome UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to an event in the area.
The protesters demanded the sacking of Union minister Ajay Mishra and the release of arrested farmers, but in vain.
A year after the gruesome incident that shook the nation, family members of the dead farmers feel "as long as Ajay Mishra continues to remain a minister of state for home affairs, justice cannot be done in this case."
Around 3 km from Banjara Tanda village, another village named Moharnia too lost a young lad Gurvinder Singh. "We are already saying that as long as the Union Minister Ajay Mishra is in power, there is no hope of justice in this case,” Sukhvinder Singh, the father of 18-year-old Gurvinder, told NewsClick.
Sukhvinder has built a memorial in the memory of his son, a few km away from his native house in Bahraich. "The government has not fulfilled any promise so far. Neither government jobs have been given to us nor did we get the arms license," he said, adding that even after a year, the trial has not started.
Out of the four deceased farmers, Nachhatar Singh of Dhaurhara, and Lovepreet Singh, a resident of Palia, belonged to Lakhimpur Kheri district. Like Daljeet and Sukhvinder, the family members of these two are also losing hope for justice.
“I’m absolutely losing patience and hope because absolutely nothing is being done in this case even after 10 months,” Jaswant Kaur, wife of Nachattar Singh, told NewsClick, adding that in this atmosphere, one can only hope that the Supreme will give them justice.
ONE YEAR ON, TRIAL YET TO START
In January, the Uttar Pradesh Police's Special Investigation Team submitted a 5,000-page chargesheet to a local court. Ten months on, the trial has not started, Mohammad Amaan, a lawyer representing the farmers, told NewsClick.
"The more the trial process is delayed, the more the culprits will get the benefit in terms of bail as an accused is entitled to get bail if the trial is delayed," said the lawyer, who said he was optimistic that the trial would begin soon.
The key accused, Ashish Mishra, was arrested on October 9 last year but received bail from Allahabad High Court on February 10 this year. However, the victims' families challenged the bail order in the Supreme Court, which overturned the High Court verdict. Ashish Mishra is currently in Lakhimpur prison since his bail cancellation on April 18.
FARMER HOLD PROTEST TO MARK ONE YEAR
Farmers from across Uttar Pradesh on Monday blocked rail traffic and scattered on highways on the first anniversary of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence that claimed eight lives. Religious programmes at the Kaudiyala Ghat gurdwara at Tikunia were organised by the local farmers.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, who attended the event, appealed to the farmers to organise a massive movement against the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government "who is shielding the accused" in the case.
Under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the farmers collective that spearheaded the movement against three agricultural laws, farmers held demonstrations in many places in Uttar Pradesh including Lakhimpur, Farrukhabad, Azamgarh, Bulandshahr, Sitapur, Ballia and Basti.
Farmers in Western Uttar Pradesh burnt the effigy of Ajay Mishra, demanding his removal from the Union cabinet. They threatened a sit-in protest in Lakhimpur if justice was not served in the case.
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