LUCKNOW: At least 8 persons, including four farmers, were killed when a farmers’ protest took a violent turn in Lakhimpur Kheri district, about 130 km from Uttar Pradesh state capital on Sunday.
Sources claimed that around 15 persons were left injured in the incident.
"Eight people including four farmers and four occupants of the vehicles which allegedly ran over them, died in the incident today in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri,” said Arun Kumar Singh, Additional SP, Lakhimpur Kheri.
As per the official sources, the protest over the three contentious farm laws turned violent in Tikunia area of Nighasan locality where farmers were opposing the visit of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya since Sunday morning.
Ajay Mishra had organised a programme at Banvari village in which Deputy CM Keshav Maurya had to take part.
Farmers unions claimed two of the protestors were allegedly run over by a vehicle in the convoy of the Union minister. They claimed that the vehicle allegedly belonged Mishra’s son.
Consequently, the infuriated mob of farmers set three jeeps on fire.
However, reacting to the allegations, Ajay Mishra said that his son was not driving the vehicle that hit the protesting farmers. Mishra said his son was not even present at the spot when the incident took place. He said "anti-social elements" among protesters hurled stones at his vehicle due to which his car overturned and two farmers were crushed underneath. He added that the entire incident was a “conspiracy" and proved that “anti-social elements cloaked themselves as farmers" to create a ruckus at the protest.
"My son was not even present at the spot… there is video footage of this," Mishra said while talking to media persons.
Mishra , in fact, claimed that it was his driver and three other BJP karyakartas who were killed in the incident. He added that his son would cooperate with the police in the investigation.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, meanwhile, cancelled all his scheduled programmes in Gorakhpur and returned to Lucknow to take stock of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
The deceased were identified as Harjeet Singh, Satwinder Singh, Satnam Singh and Agyat Lavra. All belonged to towns and villages in Bahraich and Kheri districts.
The farmers decided to block the Union minister and Deputy CMs visits over Mishra's recent speech in which he had underplayed the protests, saying it was a protest of "10-15 people and it would take just two minutes to make them fall in line".
"The farmers had planned to gherao a helipad to stop the Deputy Chief Minister from getting off. Once that programme ended and most people were on way back, three cars came... and mowed down the farmers... one farmer died on the spot and another in the hospital," said Dr Darshan Pal, a leader of the farmers' union.
ADG, Law and Order, Prashant Kumar has been rushed to Lakhimpur Kheri to take stock of the situation. Additional forces were deployed in the area to prevent any fallout of the situation.
With tension prevailing in the region, the incident gave ammo to the Opposition to attack the Yogi Adityanath government. Moreover, many including AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is likely to visit Lakhimpur Kheri on Monday. Bhartiya Kisan Union spokesman Rakesh Tikait is already on his way.
Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav, strongly condemned the incident and demanded a case of murder be lodged against the Union Minister's son Ashish Mishra. The SP chief also demanded the resignation of the Chief Minister. A party delegation will visit Lakhimpur Kheri on Monday.
Earlier in the day, thousands of farmers had gathered at Tikuniya from adjoining villages like Palia, Bhira, Bijua, Khajuria and Sampurna Nagar with black flags in their hands. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya was scheduled to reach Banvir village to attend a programme organised by the Union Minister. However, farmers occupied the helipad site at Maharaja Agrasen Sports Ground, where his helicopter was to land. Following this, Maurya ‘s programme was changed and he reached Lakhimpur by road from Lucknow.