Farm unions to decide on next course of action at the meeting on October 8
Amid growing frustration that the prime accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri case has still not been arrested four days after the incident, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) platform of protesting farm unions will hold its general body meeting at the Singhu border on October 8 to decide on the next course of action.
“October 12 is the antim ardaas [final rites] day for the martyrs of Lakhimpur Kheri. Unless our demands are met, unless the Minister of State Ajay Mishra is sacked and his son arrested, we will not hesitate to give a call for a major morcha to ensure justice for farmers. The specifics of the action will be decided tomorrow (October 8),” said Abhimanyu Kohar, an SKM leader who belongs to the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh.
Apart from seeking justice for the Lakhimpur victims, farmer leaders are also preparing to discuss the wider impact of the incident on the movement. “This could be seen as a turning point for the struggle, just like the police killings of farmers at Mandsaur in M.P. in 2017,” said a leader, who did not want to be quoted on the topic at this stage.
The immediate agenda of the meeting is the deadline for arrests and the resignation of Mr. Mishra. “The fact that the police allowed the prime accused to go missing, and the fact that all of this is happening in the immediate family of a Minister for Home Affairs is unbelievable, and reflects the state of law and order in Uttar Pradesh and the country,” said an SKM statement.
‘Tikait spoke on behalf of SKM’
At the national level, farmer leaders dismissed the idea that Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, who is the face of the movement in western Uttar Pradesh, had accepted a weak compromise by allowing the angry crowds at Lakhimpur to disperse before arrests were made. “There is no question of any compromise. Tikait spoke on behalf of the SKM, and gave a deadline for action to be taken. We will not accept anything less than our demands. This propaganda pitting Tikait against Punjab leaders is the lies of the BJP trying to create a split on regional and communal lines,” said Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the BKU’s Dakaunda faction, and a leader among Punjab unions.
The SKM said the Uttar Pradesh Government’s decision to set up a one-member judicial commission consisting of a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court “does not inspire confidence”, and reiterated its demand for an inquiry headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court into not just the incident itself, but the motives. It noted that the State Government’s notification, issued just before the Supreme Court’s suo moto hearing, did not mention the earlier threat issued by Mr. Mishra or mandate an inquiry into whether the incident was pre-planned with the aim of intimidating and quelling protesters.
“Further, the notification gives a time window of 2 months and indicates that the timeline can be extended too. From all of this, it is clear that this ordering of a judicial inquiry into the matter is to essentially buy time, to whitewash the actual set of events and to postpone justice for the victims,” said the statement.
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