In Lakhimpur Kheri, Mindless Violence Shatters Many Dreams
Eight deaths, two FIRs, and 96 hours later, police are yet to make any arrest in the Lakhimpur case.
Surrounded by people offering condolences, grieving Satnam Singh, in his late 50s, looks at the burning pyre of his 19-year-old son in a field next to his modest accommodation in Bhagwant Nagar Chowkhda farm area in Lakhimpur Kheri. Holding his son's damaged phone, Satnam was switching his gaze between his son's burning pyre and his grieving wife losing consciousness due to the shock of her tragic loss.
Four farmers, two BJP supporters, a journalist and a driver — eight people were killed in the unrest, as a peaceful protest site in Tikuania in UP's Lakhimpur Kheri district turned into a battleground on Sunday, 3 October. Eight deaths, two FIR and 96 hours later, police are yet to make any arrest in the shocking case where Minister of state (MoS) for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni's son Ashish Mishra alias Monu Bhaiya has emerged as the main accused.
Internet services have been suspended in Lakhimpur Kheri and Sitapur district. Heavy police and paramilitary deployment have been made on ground zero in Tikunia and police checkpoints have been put up at all entry points on major roads from neighbouring districts leading to Lakhimpur Kheri. Flag marches are being conducted in sensitive areas in Kheri and senior police officials from Lucknow and other neighbouring districts have been camping in the district.
WHAT HAPPENED ON SUNDAY?
Situation was tense ahead of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's visit to the district with farmers initially gathering at the Guru Nanak Academy. They had planned to show black flags to his cavalcade, which was supposed to pass through the area to neighbouring Banbirpur village, pocket borough of Ajay Mishra "Teni", minister of state for home affairs.
At round 2 pm on Sunday, protesting farmers learnt that Keshav Prasad Maurya's cavalcade had passed through a different route in a last-minute change of plans. Restrategising on their earlier plan, farmer groups, at around 3 pm, decided to move towards the venue of a wrestling event where the deputy CM was attending as chief guest and was scheduled to address a gathering.
It was 3 in the afternoon. The narrow 10-12 feet concrete road from Guru Nanak Academy towards Maharaja Agrasen college grounds was swamped with farmers and local reporters covering the event in case farmers show black flag. Farmers were caught off guard with the sudden entry of three cars in a fleet led by a jeep followed by two SUVs, sending the crowd into a frenzy. According to witnesses, the speeding cars ran over people mowing down protesting farmers and journalists. As people ran for cover, two of the three cars lost balance and turned turtle while one of the SUV managed to escape.
"At around 3:30 pm, farmers were planning to leave when three cars arrived here. They blew a hooter before speeding into the crowd with a speed of almost 80-90 km per hour and mowed down people. Monu (Ashish Mishra) had a pistol in his hand and he fired shots before escaping into the sugarcane field. The police followed him there."Karanjeet Singh, a farmer from Ganganagar in Rajasthan
The berserk crowd went after the occupants of the jeep and SUV, which could not escape the spot. When The Quint reached the spot on Monday, 4 October, morning, the two torched cars were seen lying in a ditch on the road. The area was not cordoned off despite it being a subject of active investigation. Curious onlookers, some recounting the horrific incident to media persons, gathered around the cars for a closer look of what remains of the mindless act of violence.
WHO ARE THE VICTIMS?
The youngest victim of the Lakhimpur violence is 19-year-old Lovepreet Singh, resident of Chowkhda farm. According to his father Satnam Singh, Lovepreet was preparing for IELTS and wanted to pursue his career in Australia. He had left for the protest site after one of his best friends insisted him to accompany. Other three victims from the farmer side include Daljit Singh and Gurvinder Singh, both residents of Nanpara area in Bahraich and Nakshatra Singh, resident of Dharora in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Shubham Mishra, a BJP booth president who was sitting in the Fortuner car that was just behind the Thar that was leading the fleet is among the eight victims of the violence. According to his uncle Anoop Mishra, Shubham was lynched by the farmers and the family has now moved a complaint of murder at Tikunia police station. Married in 2018, Shubham is survived by a wife and a one year-old daughter.
Raman Kashyap is the journalist who died in the violence. Raman had left for the spot in the morning to cover the visit of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya in the area. His younger brother Pawan Kashyap alleged Raman was mowed down in the incident and most likely suffered a bullet injury too. Raman had left his job as private teacher six-months-ago to pursue a career in journalism. He is survived by his wife, an 11-year-old and two-year-old son.
RADIO SILENCE OVER INVESTIGATION
Soon after the incident, Uttar Pradesh additional director general (law and order) Prashant Kumar was rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. Three days after the incident, senior police officials continue to maintain radio silence on the queries from the media. An FIR of murder was registered against Ashish Mishra and 15-20 unidentified others based on the complaint of brother of one of the deceased farmer at Tikunia police station. Later, a counter FIR was registered in the case based on the written complaint of BJP worker Sumit Jaiswal against unidentified men at the same police station.
There have been claims and counterclaims on who is the main perpetrator of the violence but the police is yet to come out with an official statement on what transpired on the day of the incident and who is behind it. There have been some media reports that the main accused Ashish Mishra alias Monu Bhaiya was summoned for questioning but the same is yet to be officially confirmed.
Families of the victims have been raising concerns over the postmortem report but the local administration seems to be holding on to the findings of the postmortem panel, which has claimed no casualties had taken place due to bullet injury. Family of one of the deceased farmer Gurvinder Singh had demanded a second autopsy after the first ruled out any bullet injury. Sources claim findings of the second Autopsy doesn't make any mention of bullet wound leading to fatality.
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.