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Repeal Cannot Bring Back the Dead, Say Family Members of Lakhimpur Kheri Victims

While BJP is hoping to reap political benefits from the repeal of farm laws, the fact that MoS Ajay Mishra continues to roam free might become a flashpoint between farmers and the government in the coming days.
file photo

File Photo

Lucknow: At a time when a wave of happiness swept the Delhi borders as farmers rejoiced at the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal the three contentious farm laws on Friday, families of four of the farmers killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and their relatives gathered to mourn the death of their loved ones on October 3.

The deceased family members said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw the three contentious farm laws could have been taken earlier and an earlier decision could have saved precious lives of not only four farmers in Lakhimpur but over 700 farmers from across the country. They said the fight is not over yet.

Four farmers were mowed down by a vehicle during a protest in the Tikunia area of Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh last month. Two of them — 22-year-old Gurvindar of Nabi Nagar, Moharnia village and 45-year-old Daljeet Singh of Banjaran Tanda village — were residents of Bahraich, while 60-year-old Nachattar Singh and 20-year-old Lovpreet Singh were residents of Lakhimpur Kheri.

Paramjit Kaur, wife of Daljeet said if the government had taken the action earlier, “my husband would still have been together (with me); the decision cannot heal our wounds or ease our sorrows."

"Though PM made the announcement to repeal the three farm laws, he neither expressed regret over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident nor sought the resignation of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni. Our fight is not over just with the repeal of the law, we will not get justice till Ajay Mishra resigns and he is not arrested,” Kaur added in a choked voice.

Echoing a similar view, Gurvindar’s uncle said the farmers had been protesting for the withdrawal of the three farm laws for nearly a year. “When I heard about Modi's announcement, I didn't know how to react, (to) cry or celebrate, as my brother was struggling for the same decision but when it was announced he is not among us. If this decision could have been done earlier, my brother would have been here.”

For Satnam Singh, who lost his lone son Lovpreet Singh during the Kheri violence, the decision to withdraw farm laws cannot heal his pain and there is nothing to celebrate about it.

“I have lost my only son for who was protesting against the same three farm laws and he was mowed down by the minister’s SUV. If the government had to withdraw the laws, then why not a single word (was said) against the minister who tried to crush the farmers? This agitation has given us pain and grief and that cannot be healed by repealing laws now. Our struggle will continue till minister Ajay Mishra arrested,” Singh told NewsClick.

He went on to add, “How would one celebrate despite knowing that the accused are roaming freely and sharing the stage with the same Prime Minister and Home Minister. Isn’t it hypocrisy?”

The aggrieved family members reiterated that their loved ones won’t come back now, whether PM repeals the laws or compensates them with money. “The memory of my father who made my what I am today won’t compensate with repealing laws or with money. The minister is responsible for the death of four farmers and still serving. Justice will be served only after he is sacked and send behind bars,” the son of Nachattar Singh told NewsClick.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the repeal of the three agriculture laws which triggered a year of protests by farmers and also apologised to the people over his government not being able to "convince" a section of farmers about the "truth" regarding the legislations' benefits.

However, the farmer unions in Uttar Pradesh expressed doubt on the ruling BJP government's intention, terming Centre’s U-turn as motivated by "electoral selfishness and compulsion". They sought compensation for live lost in the past one year during protests and demanded the arrest of Ajay Mishra immediately.

“The government adamancy cost so many lives and so much suffering. Is someone accountable or not? How would we forget when BJP leaders used to coin new words every day including ‘Khalistani’, ‘Atankwadi’, ‘paid farmers’ and whatnot,” the Uttar Pradesh unit of Samyukt Kisan Morcha asked.

Meanwhile, a meeting is called in Nighasan to discuss further course of action and protest against removal of Ajay Mishra.

“The government has withdrawn draconian laws shamelessly now. It dragged its feet for over a year. For this government and the BJP, elections and votes matter more than anything else. It is high time for us to teach a lesson to them in the forthcoming Assembly elections, particularly in UP and Uttarakhand,” a key organiser told NewsClick.

He said that a large number of farmers from Kheri and adjoining districts will reach Lucknow on November 22 to participate in Mahapanchayat to mount pressure on government to dismiss of Mishra and his arrest.

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