LAKHIMPUR KHERI, Uttar Pradesh — Four days after his son died after being hit by a convoy of cars, Satnam Singh said that there was no justice until the Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra Teni resigned from his post in the Narendra Modi government, and his son Ashish Mishra was arrested.
Satnam Singh, the father of 20-year-old Lovepreet Singh, told us, “We want the government to ensure that Ajay Mishra steps down, and his son Ashish Mishra should be arrested. That is the only way for our son to get justice. If he stays out, our son cannot get justice.”
Earlier this week, Satnam and his grief-stricken family shared with us the grief that they were feeling at their son’s passing. “Our brother has just finished building a new house for us. Now, who will live in it?” said Gagandeep, his sister.
Farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri have alleged that it was Ashish Mishra who was in the convoy of cars that mowed down the farmers who have been demonstrating for the past ten months against the Modi government’s farm laws and had gathered that day to protest against Ajay Mishra and UP chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya who were scheduled to make a visit to Banbirpur village in Lakhimpur Kheri.
A week earlier, Mishra had mocked the farmers and made threatening remarks while speaking in his Parliamentary constituency of Kheri.
Eight people — four farmers, the minister’s driver, two BJP workers, and a journalist — died in Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday after Mishra’s convoy mowed down the protesters, and in the violence that erupted in its aftermath.
The other farmers are Nachhatar Singh (60) Daljeet Singh (35) and Gurwinder Singh (19).
The horrific violence targeting the protesting farmers has triggered a firestorm in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state which goes to the polls in six months. While the Uttar Pradesh Police was forced to register an FIR (First Information Report) for murder against Ashish Mishra, in the wake of massive public outrage, the minister’s son is yet to be arrested. His father, following a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah, has reportedly been told to resume duties.
Mishra has said that his son was not present at the scene. He has also said that it was the farmers who pelted sticks and stones at the cars, causing them to overturn. Videos of the incident show a convoy of cars ramming into farmers who were walking in a field. No sticks and stones are being pelted in the video.
Ramvir Singh, a farmer in Lakhimpur Kheri, told us that he was standing 250 meters away when he saw three cars ram into the protesters.
“A convoy went by at great speed, crushing the farmers. People shouted, ‘mar diya, mar diya.’ We found that two farmers had died on the spot. Two farmers were taken to the hospital but they died on the way. One journalist also died on the way to the hospital,” he said.
The journalist Raman Kashyap’s family has alleged that media persons had pressured them into saying that Kashyap was beaten up in the violence that followed after the minister’s convoy plowed into the farmers.
Pawan Kashyap, Raman’s brother, told The Times of India that his brother was crushed by the minister’s convoy and shot at.
“One journalist came and said the autopsy report states he died of injuries from being beaten up with sticks. I ended up getting into an argument with him. He said had I not been the journalist’s brother, he would not have spoken with the civility he had … The autopsy report is not here but they’re making up stories. I was there at the mortuary. I saw his injuries. He had not been beaten up with sticks,” Kashyap said.
After three days of detention by the BJP government in UP, followed by arrest, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reached Lakhimpur Kheri on 6 October and met with the families of the deceased farmers.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence on Wednesday and listed it for hearing today.