Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday, 12 October, attended the antim ardas (last rites) ceremony of the farmers who lost their lives in the 3 October unrest in Lakhimpur Kheri.
During the antim ardas, she also interacted with some of the farmers, who had gathered in Tikunia in numbers to attend the ceremony and demand justice for the deceased.
Samkyukt Kisan Morcha leader Rakesh Tikait also marked his attendance at the antim ardas ceremony.
Later in the day, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticised Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for being silent on the atrocities committed against Dalits in the Congress-ruled states, PTI reported. Talking about the alleged incidents of atrocities against members of the Scheduled Caste (SC) communities in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, the BJP said such incidents are being ignored by those who project themselves as champions of Dalits.
Meanwhile, Congress workers were reportedly stopped by the Uttar Pradesh police from going to Lakhimpur, ahead of the rites.
SKM Issues Statement
"The communal card cannot be played with this farmers' movement to try to break it up, and the BJP must desist from it."
"It is a shame that the Narendra Modi government continues with Ajay Misra as a minister, even though there is a solid case against him for arresting and sacking him."
"On 15 October, effigies of anti-farmer BJP leaders Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Ajay Misra, Narendra Singh Tomar, Yogi Adityanath, Manohar Lal Khattar and others will be burnt by farmers all over the country."
Later, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, on Tuesday, 12 October, issued a statement saying that the Uttar Pradesh government tried its best to prevent people joining the antim ardas.
"Despite all the obstacles put up by the UP Police, people managed to reach Tikunia in large numbers," the body said.
Stating that farmers had once again proclaimed loudly and clearly that they will not allow BJP-RSS divisive politics to break their unity and strength, the body said, "The communal card cannot be played with this farmers' movement to try to break it up, and the BJP must desist from it."
"The whole country has by now watched the desperate murderous attempts of BJP to crush a powerful peaceful democratic movement. However, we will not allow the movement to be derailed in any way, and we have only grown stronger", the statement added.
Criticising the BJP government, the body said, "It is a shame to the nation that the Narendra Modi government continues with Ajay Mishra as a Minister, even though there is a solid case against him for arresting and sacking him."
SKM reiterated that it would continue with its plan of action for the 'Shaheed Kalash Yatras' in all districts of UP and in all states, for the 'BJP Leaders' Putla Dahan' on 15 October on the occasion of Dussehra and for a 'Rail Roko' on 18 October all over India.
"On 15 October, to indicate that good will indeed triumph over evil and to uphold the spirit of Dussehra, effigies of anti-farmer BJP leaders Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Ajay Mishra, Narendra Singh Tomar, Yogi Adityanath, Manohar Lal Khattar and others will be burnt by farmers all over the country," the statement said.
The body questioned PM Modi by saying, "Today's question to Mr Narendra Modi from this Yatra is - why are essential issues like education, incomes, medicine, rising costs, fair prices not part of your agenda even after so many years of being in power?"
Eight persons, including four farmers, were reported dead in Lakhimpur on 3 October. Unrest had ensued in the area after three protesting farmers had allegedly been run over by a convoy of cars, one of which was purportedly driven by Union Minister Ajay Teni Misra's son.
Gandhi Vadra had attempted to visit the deceased farmers' families in Lakhimpur the day after the violence, but had been halted from travelling to the district by the Uttar Pradesh police, which had detained the Congress leader at a guesthouse in Sitapur for nearly two days.
Upon her release, Gandhi Vadra, last Wednesday, had joined a Rahul Gandhi-led Congress delegation to meet the kin of the farmers and a journalist who had lost their lives in Lakhimpur.
Meanwhile, MoS Misra's son, Ashish Misra, was on Monday sent to three-day police remand. The minister's son, who is facing allegations of murder and rioting, had been arrested on Saturday.
Farmers Observe 'Shaheed Kisan Diwas'
Farmers protesting against the three contentious agricultural laws introduced by the Centre will observe ‘Shaheed Kisan Diwas’ on Tuesday, in order to pay tribute to the four farmers who lost their lives in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.
“12 October will be marked as Shaheed Kisan Diwas all over India on SKM’s call. The ‘antim ardaas’ of the martyrs of Lakhimpur Kheri massacre will take place in Tikunia at Sahebjada Inter College. Preparations are being made for the same and tens of thousands of farmers are expected to join this prayer meeting,” a statement by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of over 40 farm unions, said.
The SKM further urged people to light five candles outside their houses at 8 pm on Tuesday, in order to commemorate the deceased farmers.