Sparks ignited: MoS speech to car that crushed protesters

It only lasts 29 seconds. But each chilling image captures the horror of UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday afternoon when three SUVs, including one belonging to MoS Union Ajay Mishra, drove through a group of protesting farmers, killing four of them.

The video shows a group of protesters advancing on a road next to farm fields, then mowed down by a gray SUV speeding up from behind. A man is thrown over the hood before the vehicle pulls away, leaving a jumble of bodies on the side of the road.

The video was posted on Twitter Monday by Tractor to Twitter, an account which describes itself as a “campaign to support farmers protesting on social media against farm bills.” Four other people were killed in the violence triggered by the incident.

On the ground, The Indian Express spoke to several eyewitnesses who described scenes they believe will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Operations managers, local residents and UP police sources told the Indian Express it was a ‘surge’ waiting to occur after days of seething tension unleashed through “provocative” gestures and remarks from the MoS Mishra Union targeting farmers who were protesting the Center’s new farm laws.

“The vehicles were driving in a zigzag fashion. One of them was led 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, ”said Gurmeet Singh, a farmer from Lakhimpur Kheri, who was part of the protest group.

“The minister’s son realized he was in danger of getting caught, so he shot one of the farmers and fled,” said Dilbagh Singh, a farm chief who was present. “Ashish Mishra did not expect such a crowd and tried to escape which resulted in the incident,” said a senior police official, who spoke to The Indian Express on condition of anonymity. .

Detailing the footage, farm managers and police sources highlighted the minister’s visit to Lakhimpur Kheri – his parents are from the village of Banveerpur in the district – last week. They said he “showed a thumbs down” to some of the agricultural protesters who had gathered. The situation worsened, they said, when an alleged video quickly began to circulate of the minister mocking and defying the protesters.

“Yeh desh kisanon ka desh hai. Hum bhi kisan hai, aap bhi kisan hain… Agar hum utar bhi jaate to unko bhagne ka raasta nahin milta. kanoon kharab hota (This country is made of farmers. I am also a farmer, you are also a farmer… If I took action, they wouldn’t even have found a way to escape. about 10-15 people, who are working behind your back… if the agricultural laws were bad, the protests would have spread across the country) ”, Mishra was heard in the video.

Warning the demonstrators, he is heard saying: “Aise logon ko kehna chahta hun ki sudhar jao, nahin to samna karwake hum aapko sudhaar denge, do minute lagega sirf (I mean to tell these people to ‘mend your ways’, otherwise I will make them face me and straighten them in two minutes).

“It was this threat from the minister during his visit to the Pallia region on September 25 that angered us,” said Dilbagh Singh, who heads the Lucknow division of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).

In the days that followed, police sources said, tensions increased when an FIR was recorded against Harjeet Singh, a 25-year-old Sikh boy for allegedly posting objectionable comments against Mishra in response to the speech. “All of this set the stage for the October 3 protest against a visit by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to an event in Banveerpur,” the policeman said.

Police sources said their local intelligence unit alerted the district administration and senior officers to the protest against Maurya. “There must have been an intervention after which the force was deployed to where the farmers were protesting,” ADGP (Lucknow area) said SN Sabat.

“We expected Maurya’s helicopter to land on local soil and we prepared for it with black flags. At around 2:30 pm we were told Maurya would come by car and not cross the ground, so we decided to end the program, ”protester Gurmeet Singh said.

“That’s when the three SUVs left 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 without a license plate. After crushing our people, they realized that they had been surrounded by farmers. The minister’s son fled through nearby fields and managed to escape, ”said Inderpal Singh, a farmer from the Pallia region who was part of the protest against Maurya.

Asked about the ensuing violence in which four other people were killed, including the minister’s driver, Inderpal said: “How do you deal with such goondas? There was so much anger among the people after what happened. I can’t tell if it was right or wrong, but what do you do when someone crushes your brothers and kills four? Authorities confirmed that farm manager Virk was seriously injured.

“The demonstrators carried out acts of vandalism and beat some people, killing four more. According to preliminary reports, the violence lasted for about half an hour, ”said the senior police official. Police also denied reports of shooting at the site.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Sunday, Mishra had denied that his son was driving the vehicle. “It was his driver who was driving. When stones were thrown at the vehicle, it overturned and two farmers fell under it, ”he said.

“My party workers were going to receive the deputy CM when the assailants, who were among the farmers, attacked them with sticks and swords. Three party members and a motorist died in the attack. They destroyed the vehicle and set it on fire, ”he said.

Asked about his provocative speech, the deputy for Lakhimpur Kheri said: “It is wrong that I targeted farmers. If anyone sees the entire speech, it will be clear that I was talking about attackers hidden among the farmers.