Approximately two lakh farmers are expected to arrive in Lakhimpur Kheri on Tuesday to observe 'Shaheed Kisan Diwas' and pay homage to the four farmers that were killed earlier this month. Several political leaders including Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi are present for the 'antim ardas'.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of over 40 farm unions, has appealed to the farmer organisations and progressive groups across the country to mark the occasion by organising prayer and homage meetings all over the country, followed by candle light vigils outside people's houses at 8 pm on Tuesday evening. BKU-Tikait's district president Amandeep Singh Sandhu had however insisted that no political leader will be allowed to share the stage. The post-death ritual of the martyred farmers is taking place in Tikunia at Sahebjada Inter College. RLD president Jayant Chaudhary is also reportedly among those attending the event.
Earlier, on October 6, Gandhi had visited Lakhimpur Kheri along with Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and party leader Deepender Hooda to meet with the families of the deceased farmers.
Eight people including four farmers had died on October 3 after violent clashes erupted in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri area. The SKM alleges that MoS Ajay Mishra's son Ashish had arrived with three vehicles around the time that farmers were dispersing from a protest and mowed them down. Some had also accused him of gunning down one of the victims.
Days after an FIR accused Ashish Mishra of murder, he was arrested following a lengthy interrogation. Mishra had however refuted the allegations, insisting that he was not present at the spot. The Union Minister has also reiterated his son's claims, adding that some miscreants had mingled with protesting farmers and pelted the stones at the car which lead to the 'unfortunate incident'.
In a statement on Tuesday, the SKM expressed dismay at lack of action against the Union Minister. The statement from the farmers body added that farmers will mark Dussehra by burning effigies of BJP leaders on October 15.
Tight security arrangements have been made in Lakhimpur ahead of the event on Tuesday. According to earlier reports, senior civil and police officers are camping in the district to supervise arrangements and CCTV cameras have been installed all along the venue and the routes. The area is being overseen by Additional DG (Lucknow zone) S.N. Sabat, IG (Lucknow) Laxmi Singh and Lucknow commissioner Ranjan Kumar, along with 7 other IPS officers. Paramilitary forces are staging flag marches in the area.
(With inputs from agencies)