UP: SKM Caravan in Lakhimpur to Meet Victims' Families, Threatens Mahapanchayat on May 10
Lucknow: Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh is likely to become the next epicentre of the farmers' agitation as a huge caravan of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), along with Rakesh Tikait of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), on Thursday descended there to meet the families of victim farmers who were mowed down last year.
Farmer leaders met the district administration to seek a speedy trial in the violence case involving Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashish Mishra, whose bail was recently cancelled by the Supreme Court.
SKM, an umbrella of over 40 farmer unions, also threatened to organise a mahapanchayat on May 10, which coincides with the next date of hearing in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, when the court is expected to frame charges against Ashish and the other accused.
Farmer leaders also reiterated their demand for the ouster of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni, Ashish’s father, who continues to remain in office despite past assurances from the government of looking into the matter.
“They (government) had ensured that all 18 injured peasants get Rs 10 lakh as compensation. But they forgot their promise. The four farmers who have been jailed for alleged lynching of three BJP workers are being asked to change their statements in favour of Ashish Mishra," Rakesh Tikait told NewsClick.
He said farmers would launch a major agitation if Ajay Mishra, who is charged under 120B IPC, is not dismissed and arrested.
"How can there be fair action while Ajay Mishra remains a minister? The government should answer why is he not being sacked even after being named under120B? We are not going to rest until strict punishment is ensured for those guilty of mowing down farmers. When we spoke to the district administration, we had made our demands clear - the arrest of the minister," Tikait said.
The farmers' union also raised the issue of the attack on two eyewitnesses within a month of the killing, after the UP Assembly election results.
Singh, a key eyewitness to the killings, was brutally attacked on March 10 with a warning that he would be taught a lesson by the BJP as the party had won the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
On April 11, another key witness, Hardeep Singh in Bilaspur of Rampur district, was allegedly hit on the face with the butt of a pistol. He sustained severe injuries
Manjeet Dhaliwal, district president of a farm union in Shahjahanpur, said: "We demand immediate security for the witnesses. Two attacks on witnesses have already taken place and there has been no action yet against the accused despite an FIR."
Meanwhile, some farmers associated with BKU told NewsClick that a mahapanchayat would be organised in Lakhimpur to mount pressure on the government to remove Ajay Mishra from his post and arrest him. Also, as promised, those injured peasants have not been given a single penny of compensation.
On October 3, 2021, eight people, including four farmers, were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri in clashes during a farmers’ protest. The farmers were mowed down by an SUV belonging to Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish Mishra.
Later, after prodding by the Supreme Court, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set by the UP government to probe the violence, which pointed out that the incident was well-planned and a deliberate act.
Ashish Mishra was granted bail but it was cancelled by the Supreme Court last month when family members of farmers killed in Lakhimpur Kheri moved the top court challenging the bail granted to him. They claimed that the state had not filed an appeal opposing the bail granted to Mishra.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said: “In the present case, the victims have been denied a fair and effective hearing at the time of granting bail to the Respondent-Accused (Mishra).”
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