LAKHIMPUR KHERI: A day after eight people were killed in violence during a farm protest in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri, a murder case has been filed against junior Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish Mishra. The minister, too, has been booked for criminal conspiracy. A deadlock between protesting farmers, who refused to cremate the bodies of those who died on Sunday, and the administration was resolved by Monday afternoon after a meeting. The government has promised a judicial inquiry headed by a former high court judge, compensation of Rs 45 lakh each to the kin of the dead and a government job each for the bereaved families.
ADG (law and order) Prashant Kumar told TOI, “Eight deaths have been confirmed, including that of a journalist. Cross FIRs have been registered at Tikunia police station (under whose jurisdiction the violence took place on Sunday). One, by farmers’ families against Ajay Mishra for criminal conspiracy and Ashish Mishra for murder, causing death by negligence and criminal conspiracy. The second was lodged by the family of the driver who was killed, against unidentified persons, for rioting.” No arrest was made till the time of filing the report.
Bharatiya Sikh Sangathan president Jasbir Singh Virk, however, disputed the numbers. “Two men were beaten to death by protesters,” he told TOI. “Those people had opened fire on farmers. In self-defence, the farmers took action. They were protesting peacefully. There was no intention to kill anyone.”
Prohibitory orders have been in place in the district since Sunday night. Internet services remain suspended. Political representatives who tried to visit the village on Monday could not. They were either detained, stopped or prevented from landing in Lucknow. “Do not allow any political representative to enter Tikunia,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait had told farmers, protesters said. BKU chief Naresh Tikait, meanwhile, warned BJP members against visiting villages in the area. “I have appealed not to invite any MP or MLA from BJP in the villages. It is better for these leaders to stay away or they will be responsible for any untoward incident.”
Farmers initially refused to cremate the bodies of the dead or send them for autopsies. The bodies lay in four freezers at the protest site. After Tikait got there along with other farmer leaders, talks began with the administration.
In a meeting at a school in Banbirpur that began at 5.30am, Tikait, Virk and other farmer leaders raised the farmers’ demands — that Ajay Mishra be sacked, all the accused be arrested, the investigation be wrapped up in 14 days and Rs 1 crore handed out as compensation along with a government job for the families of each who died. On the other side of the meeting were ADG Kumar, DM Arvind Kumar Chaurasia and Kheri SP Vijay Dhull. After several rounds of talks over eight hours, a common ground was arrived at. “A judicial inquiry will be conducted, headed by a retired high court judge who will investigate the violence. The families of those who died will get Rs 45 lakh as compensation and one government job each. Those injured will be given Rs 10 lakh each,” ADG Kumar said. “Anyone who has any evidence should approach the inquiry committee.”
After the meeting, Tikait told the farmers they should hand over the bodies — which they did around 2.30pm. A panel of five doctors at the Lakhimpur Kheri district hospital is conducting the autopsies of all who died on Sunday. “It is a moral victory,” Tikait said. “If the government does not do justice and stick to its words, we will launch a protest again.” He has announced a mass meeting on the 13th day of the funerary rituals.