Brazen Callousness of Central Government Exposed
NO worse example of the brazen callousness of the Modi-Shah government has been witnessed in the last seven years. A full 10 days after the inhuman and brutal massacre of farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, which stunned the nation on October 3, the notorious union minister of state for home affairs, Ajay Mishra Teni, has neither been sacked from the Modi cabinet nor has he been arrested. He is now known all over the country as the butcher of Lakhimpur Kheri.
His son Ashish Mishra Teni, who along with other BJP goons, actually executed the act of mowing down unsuspecting farmers under their convoy of cars, was also given kid-glove treatment, but with mounting public pressure, was finally arrested. But the other BJP goons with him still roam scot-free. The so-called judicial commission appointed by the BJP state government of Uttar Pradesh is meaningless. This entire episode has shocked the nation and the world and has exposed the dirty fascistic and rank communal nature of the BJP-RSS, and their governments at the centre and in Uttar Pradesh.
HUGE CONDOLENCE MEETING
We had taken stock of the shocking Lakhimpur Kheri massacre in these columns last week. On October 12, 2021, to attend the last prayers of the five martyrs mowed down by Ajay Mishra Teni and his son's convoy of vehicles in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3, tens of thousands of farmers and their supporters reached Tikunia. These were farmers not just from Uttar Pradesh and its Lakhimpur Kheri district but farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and other states. The Uttar Pradesh government tried its best to prevent people from joining the antimardaas. But despite all the obstacles put up by the UP police, people managed to reach Tikunia in massive numbers.
Farmers have once again proclaimed loudly and clearly that they will not allow the BJP-RSS divisive politics to break their unity and strength. The communal card cannot any longer be played with this farmers' movement to try to break it up. "The whole country has by now watched the desperate murderous attempts of the BJP to crush a powerful peaceful democratic movement. However, we will not allow the movement to be derailed in any way, and we have only grown stronger", said the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM). SKM proclaimed that it will not allow the sacrifice of the martyrs of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre, and that of 631 others in the movement so far, to go in vain.
From this prayer meeting in Tikunia for Nacchattar Singh, Lovepreet Singh, Gurvinder Singh, Daljeet Singh and Raman Kashyap, the SKM announced its resolve to secure justice. It is a shame to the nation that the Narendra Modi government is continuing Teni as a minister, even though there is a solid case for arresting and sacking him.
Among the SKM leaders present in Tikunia on October 12 were Balbir Singh Rajewal, Rakesh Tikait, Darshan Pal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Gurnam Singh Charuni, Yogendra Yadav, AIKS finance secretary P Krishnaprasad, Abhimanyu Kohad, Gurmeet Mangat, Manjeet Rai, Satyawan, Ashish Mittal, Baldev Singh Nihalgarh, Ruldu Singh Mansa and others. The AIKS and its fraternal organisations in UP were represented by AIKS state president Bharat Singh, AIKS state general secretary Mukut Singh, CITU state secretary Prem Nath Rai, AIDWA state vice president Madhu Garg and others.
Prayer and homage meetings were held all over the country and thousands of candle vigils were held on October 12 to pay respects to the five martyrs and 631 other farmers who have been martyred in the current agitation. The sense of outrage among ordinary citizens against the impunity of the BJP Ministers and leaders is palpable everywhere.
Representatives of different states of the country and various districts of Uttar Pradesh took the asthi kalash of the martyrs for organising yatras in their respective places. These yatras will seek to mobilise more citizens to struggle for justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre case and also for the farmers' movement's overall demands.
SKM reiterated that it will continue with its plan of action, for the Shaheed Kalash Yatras in all districts of UP and all other states, for burning the effigies of BJP leaders on October 15 on the occasion of Dussehra, for a rail roko on October 18 all over India, and for a huge Mahapanchayat in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, on October 26, the day when the farmers’ struggle completes 11 months.
On October 15, to indicate that goodwill indeed triumph over evil and to uphold the spirit of Dussehra, effigies of anti-farmer BJP leaders Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Ajay Mishra, Narendra Singh Tomar, Yogi Adityanath and Manohar Lal Khattar will be burnt all over the country. On October 18, there will be a rail roko agitation all over the country.
All the above decisions were declared in a specially organised press conference at the Press Club of India in New Delhi on October 9. Several SKM leaders, including AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah, addressed the media and shared the farmers' plans for ensuring that their demands in the Lakhimpur Kheri farmers massacre are met. In response to the massacre by BJP leaders and workers, SKM will launch a peaceful and democratic mass movement for justice.
CASE OF A CRIMINAL MINISTER AND HIS SON
Due to the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, Ajay Mishra’s earlier history of criminal cases has come into the public gaze. It is clear that in the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre itself, he had a major role to play. It was his vehicles that were in the convoy that killed innocent people. Reports indicate that both Ajay Mishra and Ashish Mishra are implicated in criminal cases and that the minister is actually out on bail. The fact that Ajay Mishra had sought to promote enmity, hatred and disharmony is clear from his speech on September 25 against the minority Sikhs of the Terai region. His speech was of intimidation and threats, in a public meeting where he was also proudly alluding to his criminal antecedents. On the basis of this itself, stern action should have been taken, which could have prevented the entire Lakhimpur Kheri massacre. The fact that he tried his best to protect his son Ashish Mishra from being arrested is also very apparent.
It is clear that Ajay Mishra had a role to play in promoting enmity and disharmony, in criminal conspiracy and murder, as well as in harbouring offenders and trying to obstruct justice and to tamper with/conceal evidence. It is also clear that his continuation as a minister in the union council of ministers can be construed only as Modi and Shah's harbouring of criminals, their readiness to erode further the credibility of India's union government, or Modi's ego becoming more important than morality in public life. It is for such reasons that this farmers' agitation is having to continue with its protests eleven long months after lakhs of farmers first reached Delhi's borders last year on November 26. SKM has already issued an ultimatum about October 11 being the deadline for the sacking and arrest of Ajay Mishra.
Ashish Mishra was finally sent to a three-day police remand while the UP SIT sought his custody for 14 days, after a hearing in the sessions court in Lakhimpur Kheri. It is quite shocking that the Uttar Pradesh police allowed his accomplices Sumit Jaiswal and Ankit Das to flee. The UP government's SIT arrested Ashish Mishra on grounds of non-cooperation with the investigation and for evasive replies. Starting from the fact that the summons was under Section 160 CrPC which is meant for witnesses, to the fact that Ashish Mishra is not being pinned down for the cold-blooded murder of several innocent and peacefully protesting farmers, the developments do not instil confidence in the SIT probe, processes and arrest. The SC pointed out that in normal circumstances if a 302 case is registered, the police will first go and arrest the accused. From the way the investigation and police action around the arrests have unfolded so far, it is apparent that justice is quite far away if left to the UP police and administration. SKM has warned the UP government against fudging of any evidence, has rejected the so-called judicial inquiry set up by the UP state government, and has demanded that the investigation mechanism should report directly to the Supreme Court.
MAHARASHTRA BANDH CONDEMNS LAKHIMPUR KHERI MASSACRE
The Maharashtra bandh was called by the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi, comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress on October 11, to condemn the BJP-incited Lakhimpur Kheri farmers' massacre and to demand full justice; it was a massive success. Left and secular political parties and mass organisations, and all SKM constituents in the state took part in the bandh campaign actively. Almost all activity in the state came to a standstill – public transport, shops, markets, offices, schools, colleges, and so on. In hundreds of places, there were road blockades. There was a spontaneous outpouring of grief for the farmer martyrs and anger against the BJP-RSS.
October 11 was also the birth anniversary of the renowned freedom fighter and a leading champion of democracy against the Emergency, Jayaprakash Narayan. The SKM celebrated the anniversary of this great patriot at the Delhi borders and all over the country.
OTHER IMPORTANT EVENTS
SKM condemned the FIRs registered against five Benares Hindu University (BHU) students who were protesting against the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre. SKM also strongly condemned the horrible sexual assault that Delhi Police subjected two women protestors to, when women students protested against the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre outside home minister, Amit Shah's residence in Delhi on October 10. The protestors have stated that 'these were not isolated acts committed by some rogue Delhi police personnel. The manner in which the violence was meted out identically to both women, shows that the women personnel have received training and instructions to treat women protestors in this fashion “to show them their place.” SKM has supported the demand that the ACP of Chanakyapuri is dismissed and the police personnel who subjected the protestors to disrobing and assault be suspended and reprimanded.
SKM condemned the registering of a case against farmer leader Tajinder Singh Virk when he was clearly the one who was attacked and injured in Lakhimpur Kheri. SKM demands that the case filed by Vijay Mishra be withdrawn immediately. Video clips from the ground clearly show that Tajinder Singh Virk was attacked by the ‘Thar’ vehicle from behind when he was peacefully walking on the road and that later, as he was bleeding and lying on the road in a dazed state, others were running to help him. Registering an FIR against him is a cruel joke and should be withdrawn immediately, said SKM.
In Ambala last week, in an eerie reminder of the Lakhimpur Kheri incidents, an Innova of BJP MP, Nayab Saini ran over Bhavanpreet Singh, a protesting farmer. Farmers had gathered to protest with black flags against Saini and minister in Haryana government Sandeep Singh who had come to Naraingarh in Ambala when the vehicle of the BJP MP speeded towards protestors and ran over one of them. Bhavanpreet Singh was rushed to a hospital and treated for his injuries. The Haryana police has lodged three FIRs against protestors in Naraingarh and the Chandigarh Police has filed cases against 40 peaceful protestors. The police are very prompt in taking action against farmers even for crimes that they did not commit but does not show such promptness when it comes to offenders and culprits from the BJP.
Along with the five martyrs of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre, SKM also paid its homage to the five soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country in an encounter in Jammu & Kashmir - Jaswinder Singh, Saraj Singh, Gajjan Singh, Mandeep Singh and Vaisakh H K. SKM noted with grief and pride that Sepoy Gajjan Singh who has married only four months ago, took a farmer union flag proudly on his baarat. SKM has always maintained that kisans and jawans are in this struggle together, of protecting our country. SKM also paid homage to the innocent civilians killed in the past ten days in terrorist attacks in Jammu & Kashmir.
Last week, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattarapologised for his statements made on October 3 in a party workers' meeting, inciting violence against farmers. He said he was retracting his statements. He also cancelled his programme in Kaithal since farmers had already announced a protest against his visit. SKM Haryana welcomed these developments and called them a victory for farmers.