Politicians, Community Leaders in India Head to Lakhimpur Kheri for Funerals of Slain Farmers
11:19 GMT 12.10.2021 (Updated: 10:39 GMT 19.07.2022)
Eight people, including four farmers, were killed on 3 October in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh when a federal minister's convoy hit a group of protesting farmers, leading to violent clashes. The farmers alleged that a vehicle owned by the federal minister of state deliberately ran over them without any provocation.
Security has been beefed up in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of India's Uttar Pradesh as various politicians and farming community leaders are heading to attend a prayer meeting for the farmers who died earlier this month.
The event is part of the funeral rites organised days after one's cremation.
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
along with several other party members reached Lucknow to go to Lakhimpur Kheri to attend the event.
Uttar Pradesh party president Ajay Kumar Lallu and the party's official Twitter handle shared information about Vadra reaching Lakhimpur Kheri through tweets in Hindi.
Manjinder Singh Sirsa
, the president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), also tried to reach Lakhimpur Kheri, but police stopped him.
He shared the experience on Twitter in a post in Hindi, saying: "We are going to attend the last rites of Lovepreet Singh, Guruwinder Singh, Daljit Singh, and Nashtar Singh who were martyred at Lakhimpur Kheri. The Uttar Pradesh Police are stopping us but we are trying to reach there on time".
Farmers' Union to Observe Day of Remembrance
Farmers from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and other parts of Uttar Pradesh have been streaming into the district to attend the event.
Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body for farmers, said in a statement that preparations have been made to organise the event. It also said that tens of thousands of farmers are expected to attend the prayer meeting.
However, another farmers' group -- the Bharatiya Kisan Union -- asserted that no politician will be allowed to share the dais with farm leaders during the event.
The SKM has also appealed to farmer organisations and progressive groups across the country to mark a "Shaheed Kisan Diwas" (a day of remembrance for farmers) today by organising prayer and homage meetings all over the country, followed by candlelight vigils in the evening.
The farmers' organisation has made a public appeal to light five candles outside their houses at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Posters Appear Against Congress Ahead of Priyanka's Visit
While Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reached Lakhimpur Kheri, there were several spots where posters and signs were put up against her party.
According to local media reports, the posters were put up by the Sikh community, targeting the Congress leader for showing "fake sympathy" for the deceased farmers.
Some of the posters also carry messages about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that took place following the assassination of then-Prime Minister and top Congress leader Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Priyanka happens to be her granddaughter.
The posters in Hindi read: "Farmers don't want fake sympathy from those responsible for the 1984 Sikh riots. Those responsible for 1984 Sikh riots should not rub salt on the wounds of the Sikhs".
Meanwhile, an Uttar Pradesh Special Investigation team has arrested a fourth person in connection with the 3 October violence.
The fourth suspect was present in the Toyota Fortuner that knocked down the protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri.
On 3 October, a convoy of three vehicles drove through a crowd of protesting farmers in the Lakhimpur Kheri village of Tikonia.
After the four farmers were mowed down by the minister's convoy on 3 October, four others, including the minister’s driver, two Bharatiya Janata Party workers, and a journalist, were beaten to death in the subsequent violence.
Ashish Mishra, the son of federal Minister of State Ajay Kumar Mishra
, who is accused of killing the farmers by hitting them in an SUV, has been put into three-day police custody.
Congress and other political parties have been demanding that the minister be sacked.
On Monday, Vadra staged a silent protest through a sit-in in Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow for over three hours, reiterating her party's demand that federal Minister Mishra should be sacked.