The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmer unions spearheading the ongoing protests against the Centre’s farm laws on Saturday accused the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) of attempting to discredit the current agitation by resorting to violent measures, and their intent has been exposed in the backdrop of Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which eight people, including four farmers, were killed.
Senior SKM leader Darshan Pal said the Lakhimpur Kheri violence should not been seen in isolation as the incident was part of a larger conspiracy against farmers and their ongoing struggle. “The Lakhimpur incident is an attempt to create an atmosphere to terrorise people and to shut people’s voice. The SKM has stood firmly against this approach and will continue to raise the voice,” he said at a press conference in New Delhi.
Joginder Singh, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), one of the SKM constituents said the farmer’s agitation had been going on peacefully, but the BJP governments – be it at the Centre or in Uttar Pradesh — had been attempting various tactics to discredit the movement. “Sometimes they [BJP) associated the movement with ‘Khalistanis’, then with ‘Pakistan-China’ and then tried to label us as anti-national, but all their attempts have failed. Now, in the last few months they have started to play a new game, which is resorting to violence, and this is dangerous,” said Mr. Singh.
“Even though the BJP is involving in violence, we will reply in a peaceful manner, which is the strength of our movement. Our agitation will continue until our demands are fulfilled. There’s no question of relenting now,” he added.
Mr. Singh said Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra should be immediately dismissed from the Cabinet and arrested on charges of spreading disharmony, hatching conspiracy and murder. Besides his son, Ashish Mishra and his associates should be immediately arrested.
Ashish Mishra has been named in an FIR in the wake of allegations that he was in one of the vehicles that mowed down the four farmers at Tikonia in Lakhimpur Kheri.
“We will observe October 12 as ‘Shaheed Kisan Diwas’ and we have appealed to the farmers all over the country to join the ‘ antim ardas ’ (final rites) of the farmers, who died in Lakhimpur Kheri at Tikonia,” he said.
SKM’s senior leader Yogendra Yadav said: “If the demands are not accepted by October 11, then the SKM will launch a nationwide protest programme. After the antim ardas on October 12, a ‘Shaheed Kisan Yatra’ will be taken out from Lakhimpur Kheri by taking the asthi (ashes) of martyr farmers to each district of Uttar Pradesh and each State of the country. On Dasara on October 15, the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and that of local BJP leaders will be burnt. A ‘rail roko’ programme will be held across the country on October 18. Besides, on October 26, a ‘Mahapanchayat’ will be organised in Lucknow to protest against the Lakhimpur incident.