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LS polls: Farmers of Lakhimpur Kheri await justice

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NewsDrum Desk
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Lakhimpur Kheri (UP), May 11 (PTI) Amid the rising political heat, people in Tikunia area of Lakhimpur Kheri still remember the unforgettable incident that shook the country three years ago.

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Eight people including a journalist and four farmers were killed when violence broke out after an SUV ran over a group of protesting farmers in October of 2021.

"I pass by this place everyday. We have tried a lot to forget what happened here but every time we approach this place, the images of that day flash before our eyes," said Manjeet Singh, a resident of Tikunia pointing towards the ground where the farmers held the protest against the three controversial farm laws, which have been scrapped now.

This ground lies on one side of the narrow road leading towards Tikunia, a small town located on the northern most corner of Lakhimpur Kheri district, over 215 km away from state capital Lucknow.

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"The ground is a constant reminder of how nothing happens to a person with political influence," said Satwant Singh, another Tikunia resident who participated in the protest and was a witness to the incidents.

Ashish Mishra 'Monu', the son of Union minister Ajay Mishra 'Teni', was made an accused in the case. Ashish Mishra was arrested after the incidents but is currently out on bail.

"Ajay Mishra 'Teni' was awarded by the BJP for the incident. The party did nothing to him and has now given him a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls," said Rajdeep Singh, another resident who was injured in the incident.

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The BJP has renominated Ajay Mishra from the Lakhimpur Kheri seat. The Samajwadi Party (SP) has fielded Utkarsh Verma and the BSP Anshay Kalra. Voting will be held on May 13.

The 2021 incident occurred in Tikunia but almost all the victims were from different places in the district.

Mandeep Singh, the son of an elderly farmer Nacchatar Singh who was killed after being run over by the SUV, said, "We were shown how important we are in the incident. Nobody from the government has till date asked about us. We want this to change, we want to see the accused behind bars." Singh declined to comment on the ongoing elections but said he wants to see a change. "Like every other farmer and local we want to see a change." Surendra Singh, a relative of another victim Lovepreet Singh and also a member of farmers union, said, "This was an attack on farmers who produce grains to feed the entire country. We will continue to fight for justice." The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Tikait) unit in Lakhimpur Kheri had objected to the candidature of Ajay Mishra.

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"This is nothing but disrespect to those killed in Tikunia and all farmers. The farmers will respond to this by their votes," said Surinder Singh Virk, an office bearer of the farmers union.

Though farmers, especially from the Sikh community in Tikunia and nearby areas, express anger over the incident, the same emotion is not reflected by people of other communities, particularly outside Tikunia.

"What happened in Tikunia was wrong, nobody will support such an act but we need to come together and move ahead for development of Lakhimpur," said Prabhat Singh, a former village head in Palia area of the district.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav has talked about the episode in his public meeting held here but his party candidate Utkarsh Verma has made only passing reference in his public meetings.

BSP's Kalra, who himself comes from the Sikh community, has raised the issue in his public meetings in Palia and Nighasan area. PTI CDN ZMN

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