New Delhi: Announcing a month-long protest action to respond to the killing of farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri through “democratic and peaceful mass movement”, farmer unions said they will observe October 12 as ‘Shaheed Kisan Diwas’, the day of the Antim Ardas (Bhog) of the killed farmers, if the government fails to fulfil their demands till October 11, of arresting BJP Central minister Ajay Mishra and his son, Ashish Mishra,
In addition, there will be countrywide burning of effigies of BJP leaders, such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah on Dussehra (October 15), ‘Rail Roko’ on October 18 and a Kisan Mahapanchayat on October 26 in Lucknow.
This was announced at a press conference here on Saturday addressed by leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella organisation of over 40 farmer unions and groups.
SKM’s core committee, which addressed the media, said the entire episode suggested that the ruling regime had chosen violence as its only tool to suppress the ongoing farmers’ struggle against the three Central farm laws. The first example was a brutal lathi-charge in Karnal in Haryana, resulting in the death of a farmer, the second was in Lakhimpur Kheri and the third in Ambala where a ruling party leader tried to plough down a farmer.
Slamming the UP Police, the leaders said its conduct clearly exhibited that they were neither interested in booking the culprits of the Lakhimpur carnage, nor do did they have any power to ensure justice.
Five farmers were killed in Tikonia in Lakhimpur Kheri when Ashish Mishra, son of Minister of state for home affairs Ajay Mishra, allegedly ploughed down farmers with his accomplices under their vehicles for protesting against the abusive statement made against farmers in a public meeting.
The farmer groups demanded the sacking of junior Union Home Minister Ajay Mishra and the arrest of his son, Ashish, who showed up on Saturday after absconding since almost a week after the incident despite being named as a murder accused in the FIR.
Coming down heavily on UP Police, Yogendra Yadav, President, Jai Kisan Andolan, said that the entire world saw the video of farmers leader Tejinder Singh Virk getting seriously injured after he was knocked down by Thar (SUV). Yet, they are entertaining the complaint that Virk was involved in violence and lynching of people even when he could not stand on his feet.
“The officials of UP Police are today in Delhi to question a person who is under treatment in Medanta Hospital. A week has passed and yet they are inviting Ashish Mishra for interrogation. Numerous evidence suggest that the carnage was conducted by him and you have not arrested him. We are deeply concerned if the culprits will be brought to justice at all,” said Yadav.
Joginder Singh Ugrahan from Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta Ugrahan said he was observing a “deeply disturbing trend” of using violence to break the movement in the past three months. The veteran leader said: ”The chief minister of Haryana openly calls for violence in a BJP meeting. When faced with opposition, he retracts his words. It is apparent that violence is their collective policy now, against peaceful and democratic movements. But we will give them a solid answer by making our movement stronger through peaceful means.”
Ugrahan said in Lakhimpur Kheri, the UP Police was inviting a person for interrogation booked in case of murder. “This never happens when you are a common man. We categorically demand that Ajay Mishra, MoS Home Affairs should be arrested too under Sector 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code,” he added.
Clearing the air of confusion on the “agreement” with the UP government, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said the agreement had been reached out with the consent of family members of slain victims, local farmers’ leaders and the leaders of SKM. He said, ”the families were concerned because it was raining and the dead bodies of the victims were lying in the open. For how long, could we not cremate them? Thus, an agreement was reached on an FIR against Ajay Mishra and Ashish Mishra, compensation and government job to the family members of victims, including a journalist, who came to cover the protest,” adding that the “BJP is deliberately planting stories in media to stoke differences in the leadership but they will not succeed.”
Hannan Mollah, general secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, said the incident had completely exposed the character of the Union government, the UP government, and the Bharatiya Janata Party which is in power at both places. BJP is not ready to take any step against its leaders and goons even after there is clear evidence of such a big murder and involvement of BJP leaders in it, he said.
”It is clear that the BJP has now turned to violence after losing ground in the face of this historic farm movement. The SKM has decided that it will respond to this violence through a peaceful and democratic mass-movement. A nationwide campaign will be launched against this massacre and the non-satisfactory action by the government,” Mollah said.