Background  

The 2020–2021 Indian farmers’ protest was an ongoing protest against three farm acts which were passed by the BJP-led Union Government in the BJP controlled Parliament of India in September 2020.

In September 2021, Ajay Mishra Teni, a BJP leader and the Minister of State for Home Affairs was attending an event in the Palia town of Lakhimpur Kheri district. During the event, the farmers had shown black flags as a sign of protest. Teni had threatened the farmers in his speech saying, “Sudhar jao, nahi toh hum aapko sudhaar denge, do minute lagega keval” (You better mend your ways, or we will teach you a lesson, it will only take a couple of minutes.) 

Lakhimpur Kheri Violence

On 3 October, BJP leaders Ajay Mishra Teni and Keshav Prasad Maurya, the deputy CM of UP, had planned to attend an event in the area. Tajinder Singh Virk, a farmer leader, organised a protest against Teni’s upcoming visit, in response to his so-called threat.

On 3 October 2021, hundreds of farmers in the Tikonia area of Lakhimpur Kheri district were returning after staging protests as part of the 2020-2021 Indian farmers’ protest against the three farm laws. The protestors were blocking state deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to Banbirpur village. The protestors walking on the road were hit and ran over from behind by a speeding Mahindra Thar, a SUV car. Two other vehicles in the convoy quickly followed the first car and crushed the injured who were lying on the ground. 

According to witnesses, gunshots were also fired. Thar and Fortuner car were torched, while the driver of the third car in the convoy, a Scorpio, fled the site with his car.

Total eight people died in the violence. Two farmers died on the spot while two more died later in the hospital. Ten farmers were injured. Raman Kashyap, a 28-year-old journalist working with the private TV news channel was among those killed. Three persons in the minister’s convoy were lynched by the farmers subsequently. The victims included driver of Ajay Mishra and two BJP workers.

Two of these cars involved were owned by the union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra. According to the eyewitnesses the minister’s son, Ashish Mishra, was in one of the cars in the convoy.

And to add insult to injury, Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra on Wednesday allegedly called journalists “thieves” and pushed one of them when they sought his comment on the Uttar Pradesh Police SIT charging his jailed son Ashish under additional IPC sections in connection with the October 3 violence in Lakhimpur Kheri.

SIT Report and FIR

THE Special Investigation Team (SIT), reconstituted by the Supreme Court which had been probing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, said the incident was well-planned, and not of negligence.

“According to the prosecution, the ongoing investigation and evidences collected in the FIR so far had established that October 3 violence leading to death of five people and injuries to several others was not an act of negligence or carelessness but an act of premeditated planning, hence charges under sections 279 (rash driving), 338 (causing grievous injuries by negligence) and 304 A (causing death due to negligence) as in the FIR did not stand,” said senior prosecution officer (SPO) SP Yadav

With repeal of three farm laws and withdrawal of farmer’s agitation the opposition in general and The Congress in Particular were lacking a burning issue to target and harass Modi Government. 

Lakhimpur Kheri Tragedy and the Congress party

Notwithstanding, Congress sees Lakhimpur Kheri tragedy as opportunity to derive political mileage.

Rahul Gandhi said the SIT report filed at the local court has found more evidence to prove the involvement of Teni’s son Ashish Mishra in the mowing down of farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3.

 

The BJP said that an “impartial probe” was on into the violence and people should not give irresponsible statements that may obstruct justice.

The BJP on Wednesday accused Rahul Gandhi of trying to fan unrest over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, alleging that the Gandhi family is using the tragedy as an opportunity to derive political mileage as it has been facing questions from Congress leaders. Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi after the Congress leader launched a sharp attack on the government, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said “irresponsibility” has become his second name.


United Opposition Demands Teni’s Resignation In LS; House Adjourned For The Day

Lok Sabha witnessed abrupt adjournments Thursday as a united Opposition disrupted proceedings seeking the dismissal of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni, whose son is an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

Opposition parties, including Congress and Trinamool Congress, occupied the Well of the House shouting slogans against Teni. Congress member Rahul Gandhi, who had a starred question on MSMEs listed against his name in Question Hour, used the opportunity to demand the minister’s dismissal.

“The probe is on under Supreme Court’s directions. Such comments (of opposition) are unfounded,” Union minister and senior BJP leader Piyush Goyal told reporters.

Asked about the demand for a discussion, he added, “Parliamentary rules dictate that a sub-judice matter is not discussed (in Parliament).”

The Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha also hit out at opposition members for their continuous disruption of House proceedings to seek revocation of the suspension of 12 members, who allegedly attacked marshals and indulged in “unruly” conduct inside the chamber in the last session.

This shows that opposition parties lack any real issue to criticise the government and are not keen on raising pro-people matters, Goyal said.

He noted that the Lok Sabha was scheduled to discuss the issue of price rise and the Rajya Sabha the COVID-19 situation following the outbreak of the Omicron variant but opposition protests caused adjournments in both Houses.

 

Parliamentarians in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament. (LSTV/PTI Photo)

Why BJP Is Protecting Ajay Mishra Teni

Politically two issues concern the government.

A section of the Brahmins views the BJP.s UP government under Yogi Adityanath as not being supportive to them. This section of Brahmins feels side lined by the government.

The BJP has sought to convey a message to the Brahmins that it has not just retained Teni but also supported him despite pressure from all quarters.

But by dropping Teni from Modi’s council of ministers, the BJP might antagonise the Brahmins and alienate them further.

The BJP may ill-afford to drop him just before the UP-assembly election which is likely to be held in February-March. Brahmins constitute 10-12 percent of the state’s population. Being socially, educationally and economically on the top rung of the society, Brahmins are also