8 die in violence after farmers’ protest in UP

SKM leaders Darshan Pal and Yogendra Yadav, claimed that the SUV being driven by the minister’s son ran over farmers, “killing four and injuring over a dozen.”

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Eight persons, including four farmers, died in violence that erupted in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri after two SUVs allegedly ran over some farmers who were protesting against the visit of state Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to Banbirpur, the native village of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra.

Lakhimpur Kheri DM Arvind Chaurasia confirmed tonight that “four farmers and four others were killed in the violence”.

Even as UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath called an emergency meeting to review the matter tonight, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha alleged that one of the SUVs was being driven by Mishra’s son, a claim the minister rejected outright saying his son was not at the spot. The minister termed the incident a conspiracy alleging that certain elements among protesters threw stones at the vehicles, which overturned.

The minister alleged that three BJP workers and a driver were beaten to death by some elements in the protests and warned against “peaceful farmers’ protests being hijacked”.

At a press conference later in the evening, SKM leaders Darshan Pal and Yogendra Yadav, however, claimed that the SUV being driven by the minister’s son ran over farmers, “killing four and injuring over a dozen.”

The SKM rejected the claims of violence by farmers, demanding the dismissal of Mishra, registration of murder cases against the perpetrators and investigation of the incident by a sitting Supreme Court judge. The SKM’s demand was supported by the Congress, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Samajwadi Party.

Yogendra Yadav, meanwhile, said that SKM wanted the probe to be held outside Uttar Pradesh. “We also call upon the farmers across India to hold protests outside DC offices from 10 am to 1 pm tomorrow and seek justice. We appeal for peace,” Yadav said, appealing to farmers for calm even as another farm leader Rakesh Tikait said he was on the way to the spot. The incident occurred after farmers gathered along Tikonia-Banbirpur road to protest the visit of Deputy CM Maurya. The protesters had gathered at the helipad where Maurya was to arrive. They later dispersed after cops said the Deputy CM had taken another route. SKM’s Darshan Pal alleged that Mishra had been making provocative statements against Punjabi farmers inhabiting the Terai region. Another morcha member, Guramneet Mangat said, “The son and brother of minister Ajay Mishra came to the spot in speeding vehicles. They fired, and then ran over some farmers. One of the farmers, Tejinder Virk, is critical.”

The Congress demanded the sacking of Mishra. “At whose behest was the trampling done? A committee led by a sitting Supreme Court judge should probe it and identify those who burnt the vehicles and those who crushed the farmers. The SC should also take suo motu cognisance of the incident,” Congress spokesman Gaurav Vallabh said.

A video purportedly showing Haryana CM ML Khattar asking his audience to take on protesting farmers went viral on Sunday. The government claimed the CM’s statement had been distorted. “If the entire video is viewed, the context becomes clear. This is a meeting of BJP workers where the CM says they should maintain discipline even while opposing wrongdoings,” a party spokesperson said.

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