Priyanka, other leaders take part in ‘antim ardas’, pay tribute to deceased farmers
LAKHIMPUR KHERI/LUCKNOW Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and other parts of Uttar Pradesh converged in UP’s Lakhimpur district for the ‘antim ardas’ (last prayers) of the four farmers and a journalist killed in the October 3 violence in Tikunia village here.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, UPCC chief Ajay Kumar Lallu, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary and Samajwadi Party leaders including its district president Rampal Singh Yadav were among those who paid tribute to the deceased.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha and BKU leaders, including Rakesh Tikait, Darshan Singh Pal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Dharmendra Malik besides local farm union leaders also arrived in the village to pay tributes to the deceased, who were allegedly mowed down by speeding vehicles on during a protest.
The antim ardas was held amidst heavy police presence in a paddy field barely a kilometre away from the spot of violence in Tukunia on Oct 3.
The deceased included four farmers, including Daljeet Singh and Gurvinder Singh of Bahraich district, Nachhattar Singh of Dhaurahra (Lakhimpur) and Lavpreet Singh of Pallia (Lakhimpur), a journalist Raman Kashyap of Nighasan (Lakhimpur), two BJP workers and a driver. The violence started when an SUV belonging to BJP minister Ajay Mishra Teni allegedly rammed into the protesting farmers.
Farmers coming to attend the antim ardas were stopped at police pickets set up on the road to Tikunia and not allowed to proceed with their vehicles. But majority of them reached the spot on foot.
The paddy field was cleared for the antim ardas and rugs were spread on the ground for people to sit. Family members of the deceased and farmer leaders sat on a raised platform while political leaders were not allowed to share the stage by the organisers.
Paying homage to the deceased, farmer leaders reiterated their demand for the arrest of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra. His son Ashish Mishra was accused of killing the farmers by mowing them down in an SUV.
He was arrested on Saturday by the police team investigating the matter.
“Insaf tabhi hoga jab mantri giraftar hoga (Justice will be done only after the minister is arrested,” said a local farm leader at the venue. Family members of the deceased farmers also reiterated the same demand. “The police cannot conduct a fair investigation till minister Ajay Mishra resigns from his post and is arrested for criminal conspiracy that resulted in the violence,” said Gurjinder Singh, uncle of deceased farmer Gurvinder Singh.
Preachers from the nearby Kodiyala Ghat Gurudwara offered prayers at the venue. More than 400 Sikh volunteers served water, helped with parking arrangements, directed movement of crowd and ran ‘langar’ (community kitchen ) at the paddy field.
Units of the police, PAC and RAF were deputed near the venue to ensure law and order and avert any untoward incident. Senior police and administrative officials also camped in a nearby school and overlooked the proceedings while remaining in touch with farmers.
“We are in touch with farmer leaders and organisers of the antim ardas. They have assured us that the event will be organised in a peaceful manner and they will cooperate with the administration to ensure law and order,” said SN Sabat, acting ADG.
PRIYANKA, JAYANT STOPPED
Congress national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who had left for Delhi late on Monday evening after the silent protest in Lucknow, landed in the state capital again on Tuesday morning to go to Lakhimpur Kheri to participate in the ‘antim ardas’. The Congress motorcade was stopped at the Sitapur toll plaza for a while but the police soon allowed it proceed to Lakhimpur.
Similarly, RLD national president Jayant Chaudhary was briefly detained at the Bareilly airport. He had taken a flight from Delhi to Bareilly and was heading to Lakhimpur Kheri. He too reached Lakhimpur and participated in the ‘antim ardas’.
Will begin stir if minister not sacked: Tikait
Addressing the gathering during the ‘antim ardas’, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait reiterated his demand for the removal of MoS (home) Ajay Kumar Mishra, blaming him for the violence in Tikunia on October 3. He also warned of an agitation if the minister was not dismissed from his cabinet post.
“If videos of Tikunia violence had not come into public domain, farmers would have been held responsible for the incident,” said Tikait.
He said four farmers and a journalist killed in the Tikunia violence would be counted among those 600 farmers, who had laid down their lives opposing the three farm laws.
Outlining the further course of agitation, Tikait said a ‘Kisan Shaheed Yatra’ with ‘asthi’ (mortal remains of the deceased) would be taken out across all states and districts. These urns would be religiously disposed in the respective districts and states.
On Vijay Dashmi (October 15), effigies of BJP leaders would be burnt to mark the protest against the “anti-farmers policies of the BJP government,” he said.
On October 18, a six-hour-long ‘Rail Roko’ movement would be launched from 10am to 4pm, followed by a ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ in Lucknow on October 26, during which further course of action would be decided, added Tikait.