Akalis to meet Shah, Sidhu to lead protest march as Lakhimpur violence hits Sikhs in UP hard

Sukhbir Singh Badal said that his party will also meet Yogi Adityanath to impress upon him the need to ensure that the perpetrators of the 'ghastly' attack on farmers are brought to book.

Published: 07th October 2021 03:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th October 2021 08:26 AM   |  A+A-

Agitated farmers take to streets after protesters were run over by SUVs in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday. (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

AMRITSAR: Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday said that a party delegation will meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and request him to ensure that exemplary action is taken against those involved in the killing of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri.

Badal said the SAD has already written to Shah seeking time for the meeting and that he will lead the party delegation.

Talking to reporters here, the SAD president said that a separate party delegation will also meet Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to impress upon him the need to ensure that the perpetrators of the "ghastly" attack on farmers are brought to book.

Eight people were killed in the violence that erupted in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday during a protest by farmers against the visit of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.

Four of the eight killed were farmers.

They were allegedly mowed down by a vehicle carrying BJP workers.

The other four victims included two BJP workers, allegedly lynched by angry protesters.

A delegation of the SAD will meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah to request him to ensure that exemplary action is taken against those involved in the killing of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, Badal said.

The party has written to the minister seeking time for the meeting, he added.

The Akali leader said that a separate party delegation will also meet UP CM Adityanath.

ALSO READ | Only Trinamool could meet Lakhimpur Kheri victims' families; kudos to our MPs: Mamata

The Uttar Pradesh government should also move swiftly to ensure justice to the families of the deceased farmers, he said.

"I appeal to the chief minister to rise above party lines. It is an issue of credibility. People are affronted that the accused have not been arrested till now. People want the guilty to be arrested, however high they may be," Badal said.

He said a SAD delegation will visit Lakhimpur Kheri to assess the situation there and meet the victims' families.

"Earlier also a delegation was sent to Uttar Pradesh but it was stopped at the Ghaziabad border," he said.

Asked about the detention of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Uttar Pradesh and the subsequent visits by the party's top brass to Lakhimpur Kheri, Badal said they went there to free Priyanka Gandhi and that they are "not concerned" about the well-being of the farmers.

He claimed this is part of the Congress' concerted efforts to launch its poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh.

Two FIRs have been registered in connection with Sunday's violence.

Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra, is among those booked by police.

The Uttar Pradesh government had announced on Monday that a retired high court judge will probe the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and a compensation of Rs 45 lakh each will be given to the families of the deceased farmers.

Their kin will also get a government job.

The injured will get Rs 10 lakh.

The Punjab Congress, led by state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, will take out a protest march on Thursday to Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri over the issue of killing of farmers.

ALSO READ | Tensions within BJP over Lakhimpur? Sabyasachi Dutta says violence against farmers 'barbaric'

The march will begin from Mohali at noon, party sources said here on Wednesday.

Sidhu on Tuesday had said that the party's state unit would march towards Lakhimpur Kheri if Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son is not held in connection with the violence in Lakhimpur.

Earlier in the day, Sidhu had slammed the Uttar Pradesh police for detaining party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and accused it of violating the spirit of the constitution.

"54 hours passed !! @priyankagandhi Ji has not been produced before any Court, unlawful detention beyond 24 hours is a clear violation of the fundamental rights. BJP & UP Police :- You are violating the spirit of the Constitution, impinging on our basic human rights !!," he said in a tweet.

The spot near Tikonia village where violence erupted on Sunday during a farmers' protest is amid an area linked to the life of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.

Granthi Baljeet Singh from Kaudiyawala Ghat Gurdwara says the Guru came here in 1554 and cured a person of 'kodh', or leprosy.

The shrine gets its name from there.

The devout believe that a dip in the 'sarovar' of the gurdwara, located close to the spot where eight people were killed, can cure people of skin diseases.

Lakhimpur Kheri district and the adjoining areas in the Terai have been home to Sikh farmers for generations --- including those who came during the time of the Awadh nawabs, migrants from undivided Punjab and the more recent settlers.

On Sunday, Sikh farmers formed a sizeable number of those protesting over the visit of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.

And all the four dead farmers had Punjabi names.

They were allegedly mowed down by a vehicle carrying BJP workers.

The other four victims included two BJP workers, allegedly lynched by angry protesters.

Many farmers from Lakhimpur Kheri and the neighbouring areas in the Terai have been actively involved in the protests against the agri-marketing laws enacted at the Centre last year.

ALSO READ | SC takes cognisance of Lakhimpur Kheri incident, CJI-led bench to hear matter on October 7

Many have made trips to the protest sites on Delhi's borders, dominated by farmers from Punjab and Haryana -- where the agitation has been on for months now.

They also attended the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar last month.

Bahraich, Shahjahanpur and Pilibhit are among the other Uttar Pradesh districts with a significant population of Sikh farmers.

Largest in area among the 75 UP districts, Lakhimpur Kheri is known for sugarcane cultivation, and there are nine sugar mills in the district.

Sarjit Singh, a retired sports teacher at a government school in Bahraich, says Sikh farmers from Punjab started buying forestland in the Terai districts because the same amount of money would get them bigger pieces of land than back home.

"Some sold their five bighas of land in Punjab and bought 25 bigha in Bahraich near the forests," he says.

But there have been settlers earlier as well.

Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, who has been a minister in UP and at the Centre, said Sikhs came to Lakhimpur Kheri from undivided Punjab in the 1940s.

Earlier, the nawabs of Awadh encouraged members of the community to settle in the area, and many bought land, he tells PTI.

"The first chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Govind Ballabh Pant, too had encouraged Sikhs to buy land in this area," says Ramoowalia, now a member of the UP legislative council from Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party.

According to an elderly Pyara Singh, there are three or four lakh Sikhs in Lakhimpur Kheri.

Most farmers from the community are based in Palia, Nighasan and Gola tehsils in the district.

In Bahraich district, Nihinaurwa, Mihipurwa and Bichiiya areas have a significant concentration of Sikhs in Bahraich district.

Of the four farmers killed on Sunday, Lovepreet Singh and Nachatar Singh hailed from Lakhimpur Kheri.

ALSO READ | Congress leader Sachin Pilot 'detained' in Moradabad en route to Lakhimpur Kheri

Gurvinder Singh and Daljeet Singh were from Bahraich.

The community is represented in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet by Baldev Singh Aulakh.

Ramoowalia was a minister during the SP term.

Lakhimpur farmers say they were angry with Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra over a "provocative" speech he made after being shown black flags during his public meeting in his Kheri Lok Sabha constituency.

He said he could discipline such people in "two minutes", the farmers say.

Ashish Mishra, the minister's son, is named in an FIR registered over the farmers' deaths.

But he claims he was nowhere near the trouble spot when the violence took place.



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