NEW DELHI: A day after he was suspended from the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), social activist Yogendra Yadav on Friday said his visit to the family members of a BJP worker killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence was an "act of humanity".
Yadav has been suspended by the SKM for a month for visiting the family of Subham Mishra, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker who was killed in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh on October 3 in violence that erupted during a farmers' protest.
The SKM is an umbrella body of over 40 farm unions that is spearheading the protests at Delhi's borders against three new agriculture laws of the Centre In a statement, Yadav said he has apologised for not seeking the opinion of the other members of the SKM before visiting the slain BJP worker's family.
He said he regrets not consulting the other members of the SKM before his meeting with Mishra's family and it saddens him to have hurt their feelings.
"In any movement, collective opinion prevails above individual understanding. I am sorry that I did not talk to the other comrades of SKM before taking this decision," Yadav said.
"I respect the collective decision-making process of the SKM and gladly accept the punishment awarded under this process. I will continue to work more diligently than ever for the success of this historic peasant movement," he added.
Yadav defended his meeting with Mishra's family, calling it an "act of humanity".
"It is in line with humanity and the Indian culture to share the misery of even those who are your sworn enemies," he said.
Yadav said he met the families of the farmers and the journalist killed in the same incident, before meeting the family of the BJP worker.
He hoped that his public expression of sentiments will only strengthen the farmers' movement.
"I hope that a fruitful dialogue can be started on this question," he added.
In a statement on Friday, the SKM said the decision to suspend Yadav (one of the nine members of its coordination committee) for a month was taken keeping in mind the "hurt sentiments of the farmers associated with the movement who are already having to deal with the injustice of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre and that his unilateral decision did not reflect well on the movement".
"On his part, Yogendra Yadav explained that he visited the bereaved family to share their grief in a non-partisan manner and that he stands by the action he undertook in his personal capacity in terms of his principles and policy. He apologised since his action had hurt the sentiments of the protesting farmers and regretted the fact that he did not consult his colleagues prior to the visit," the statement read.
According to a senior farmer leader, the decision to suspend Yadav was taken at a general body meeting of the SKM.
"He (Yadav) cannot participate in the meetings and other activities of the SKM," the farmer leader said.
Yadav attended the SKM's general body meeting on Thursday.
Eight people were killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
Four farmers and a journalist were run over when a car allegedly being driven by a Union minister's son ploughed through a walking column of farmers in the district's Tikunia village.
Angry farmers then allegedly dragged out two BJP workers and their driver from vehicles that were part of the convoy and beat them to death.