Eyewitnesses say that Ajay Mishra’s provocative speech led to protests and then violence

A senior police officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said, “Ashish Mishra did not expect such a crowd and tried to escape, resulting in the incident”

The SUV was set ablaze
The SUV was set ablaze

NH Web Desk

A 29-second video posted to Twitter on Monday by Tractor to Twitter, shows what unfolded in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday when three SUVs, one of them owned by Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra, mowed down protesting farmers.

Gurmeet Singh, an eyewitness, told The Indian Express, “The vehicles drove in a zigzag manner. One of them was driven by Ashish Mishra (the son of Union MoS Mishra). The vehicles crushed the farmers, killing several of them. Our leader Tejender Singh Virk was dragged by the cars for a long distance. Some got stuck under the cars, but the vehicles didn’t stop. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

A senior police officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said, “Ashish Mishra did not expect such a crowd and tried to escape, resulting in the incident.”

Farm leaders and police sources told the Indian Express that Ajay Mishra "showed the thumbs-down" to the protestors and mocked them. The video was soon circulated on social media. Mishra had said that there were only 10-15 people who were making noise about the farm laws, and if it was really harmful, the protests would have spread all over India. He warned the protestors to mend their way, or that he would set them straight in two minutes.

Dilbagh Singh, who leads the Lucknow division of the BKU said “It was this threat from the Minister during his visit to the Pallia area on September 25 that angered us.” He added, “The Minister’s son realised that he may get caught, so he shot one of the farmers and fled.”

Tensions rose in the following days. “All of this set the stage for the protest on October 3 against a visit by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya for an event at Banveerpur,” the police officer said, reported The Indian Express.

Sources in the police said that they knew about the protests against Maurya through their intelligence. “There must have been some input after which force was deployed at the spot where the farmers were protesting,” said ADGP (Lucknow zone), SN Sabat.

Gurmeet Singh said that they were waiting for Maurya’s helicopter to land, but got to know at 2:30 pm that he was coming in a car, and so they ended the programme. Inderpal Singh, a farmer from the Pallia area who was part of the protest against Maurya, said, “That was when the three SUVs sped out from Banveerpur. One of the cars belonged to Minister Mishra’s representative Deepak Talwar, another to Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra, and the third was new with no number plate. After they ran over our people, they realised that they had been surrounded by farmers. The Minister’s son ran away through the fields nearby, and managed to escape.” Inderpal added that the people were very angry after the incident took place. Officials confirmed that farm leader Virk was seriously injured.

Police said that the protestors indulged in vandalism, and beat up people, which resulted in four more deaths.

Ajay Mishra told Indian Express that his son was not driving the vehicle. “It was his driver who was driving. As stones were pelted at the vehicle, it overturned and two farmers came under it.” He said that his party workers were going to receive the Deputy CM when they were attacked, three party workers and a driver were killed and the car was set ablaze. He also said that he did not target the farmers in his speech, but “assailants hiding among the farmers.”

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Published: 05 Oct 2021, 11:09 AM