Situation in UP similar to Jallianwala Bagh massacre: Sharad Pawar slams BJP govts
BJP said before blaming it for the incident, Pawar should have considered the fact that four BJP workers had also died in the violence
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led governments in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and the Centre for “misuse of power” over the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri during a farmers’ protest that had left eight people dead on October 3. He demanded a probe into the incident by a Supreme Court (SC) judge and likened the violence to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre during India’s freedom movement. Pawar has assured the farmers that they are not alone and that the Opposition is with them.
“Our country gives the right to protest. Accordingly, farmers gathered at Lakhimpur Kheri and were holding a silent protest. At that time, people related to those in government – be it UP or at the Centre – tried to suppress their voice and [the protesters] were mowed down by a jeep, which led to the loss of six-eight farmers’ lives. Those in the BJP government at Centre and in UP are responsible for this act.”
Pawar’s comments came a day after the UP Police booked Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni and his son Ashish for murder and criminal conspiracy in connection with the violence at Lakhimpur Kheri. The farmers at the spot have alleged that Ashish mowed down four cultivators with his SUV during the protest on Sunday and triggered the violence.
Ashish denied the charges and had said that he was not in the car. He blamed the farmers for torching vehicles and thrashing others, including the car’s driver and two BJP workers, to death. A local journalist also died in the violence. Four of the eight victims of the violence, were farmers. It was the bloodiest clash since protests against three Central farm laws erupted last year.
Pawar said he has heard that the government is ready to get the incident probed by a retired judge.
“But I want the investigation to be conducted by a sitting SC judge and allow the truth to come out.”
Pawar said the UP government has created a situation similar to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and it will have to pay its price one day. He added that the attack on farmers protesting silently “shows the intention of the BJP-led Central government”.
“I want to tell them [BJP], today you are in the government and are trying to muzzle farmers’ voices by misusing power. But you will not succeed. You will get a befitting response not only from the farmers in UP but from the entire country,” the former Union minister said.
As the BJP-led UP government has stopped Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Member of Parliament Deepender Singh Hooda, Punjab and Chhattisgarh chief ministers from entering Lakhimpur Kheri, the veteran leader said such treatment kills the fundamental rights in a democracy.
“They can stop people for a day or two but will not be able to succeed for more than that and the people will show them [BJP] their right place,” he said.
The former Union agriculture minister termed the BJP governments insensitive.
“The governments, be it UP or at the Centre, are insensitive. Even after farmers were killed, they are not ready to express grief. Moreover, they are trying to give a message that they are treating all those protesting against the government with iron fists,” he replied when asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not yet expressed grief over the killings of farmers.
In response to Pawar’s comments, BJP said they have no objections for probe by a sitting SC judge. However, the party said that before blaming it for the incident, the NCP chief should have considered the fact that four BJP workers had also died in the violence.
“He [Pawar] should have taken all the details before making such statements as four people who had died in the incident are BJP workers. I am sure BJP workers didn’t go there for a suicide attack. As far as a probe is concerned, we have no problem in getting it investigated with a sitting SC judge or any of the agencies in the country,” said BJP’s state vice-president Madhav Bhandari.
Bhandari also recalled the Gowari stampede incident. Around 114 people from the Gowari community were killed and 500 were injured in a stampede at Nagpur when the police had tried to disperse a huge crowd by using a baton charge. Pawar was the chief minister when the incident took place in 1994.
“Before comparing the Lakhimpur Kheri incident [to Jallianwala Bagh massacre], he [Pawar] should also not forget the Gowari stampede case,” he remarked.