The violence at Lakhimpur Kheri, which claimed eight lives after some farmers were allegedly mowed down by vehicles driven by BJP workers, has triggered angry reactions from leaders across party lines. One of the cars in the convoy is learnt to be owned by Union MoS Home Ajay Mishra Teni.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government has detained or denied entry to Opposition leaders to Lakhimpur Kheri. Over 24 hours after keeping her at a local guest house, the Sitapur police on Tuesday arrested Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and at least 10 others, to “prevent the commission of cognizable offences”.
Here’s what different leaders have said on the events at Lakhimpur Kheri:
* NCP supremo Sharad Pawar Tuesday warned the BJP that it will have to pay a heavy price for the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and asserted that the entire Opposition is with the farmers. Further, describing the violence as an “attack on farmers”, Pawar, a former Union Agriculture Minister, said its responsibility lies with the BJP governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh and the “people will show them their place.” He also demanded a probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.
“Whether it is government at the Centre or in Uttar Pradesh, they are not sensitive at all. The kind of situation that was created in Jallianwala Bagh, we are witnessing a similar situation in Uttar Pradesh. Today or tomorrow, they will have to pay a heavy price for it,” Pawar told reporters.
“I just want to tell them that they would not succeed in suppressing the farmers’ voice. Farmers from the entire country are united and will fight against this misuse of power by those sitting in government,” he added.
* Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin Tuesday condemned the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri and asserted that a total revocation of the three farm laws brought by the Centre will alone lead to harmony in the country.
“Farmers have been protesting for the last 300 days against the farm legislations and the ongoing events in Uttar Pradesh are the result of the Centre’s indifference to the ryots’ demands,” he said in a statement. “A judicial enquiry should be ordered against those responsible for the violence. The Central government must realise that complete repeal of the three farm laws alone will lead to normalcy and total peace,” Stalin added.
* Senior Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah said the killing of the farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri reminded him of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the incident. “This reminds me of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre…killing of four innocent farmers,” he told reporters.
“Farmers’ protest against the three agri laws has been going on for 10 months but the PM has not tried to resolve the issue till now. The Modi government is an anti-farmer government… The Modi government is more like a Hitler government,” he charged.
* Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who along with some ministers and Congress legislators held a silent protest at Gandhi Smarak Bhawan in Chandigarh, also said that the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri reminded him of the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh tragedy. Channi also alleged that the “killing” of the farmers was “intentional”.
Slamming the BJP government at the Centre, he said it should not force the country’s youth to look at freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and Shahid Udham Singh for “restoring” democracy in the country once again.
Reacting to the detention of Priyanka Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh, Channi said, “This is too much. It is unacceptable. Today, the blood of all the countrymen is boiling.”
*Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot hit out at BJP governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, saying democracy was under “threat” in the country.
Addressing a protest at the Rajasthan Congress Pradesh Committee (PCC) office in Jaipur against the Lakhimpur violence and detention of Priyanka Gandhi, Gehlot said the video of the incident shared by Gandhi is sufficient to substantiate the allegation and no other evidence is needed. “The situation is dreadful. What happened in Lakhimpur Kheri is not a small thing; this has shaken the whole country,” Gehlot said.
“The popularity graph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming down and people have understood that there is a difference in his words and actions,” the chief minister added.
* Describing Priyanka Gandhi’s detention as “totally illegal”, senior party leader P Chidambaram said it has “conclusively” established that there is no rule of law in Uttar Pradesh, and alleged that the police seem to be carrying out Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s law and his order.
“The arresting police officer told her she was arrested under Section 151 of the CrPC. Any person arrested under S. 151 cannot be detained for more than 24 hours, unless there is an order of the judicial magistrate under any other provision of law,” he added.
“There is no order of any judicial magistrate. Her constitutional rights under Articles 19 and 21 have been grossly violated. Her ‘arrest’ violated several provisions of the CrPC,” Chidambaram further said and underlined that no woman can be arrested after sunset or before sunrise and Gandhi was arrested at 4.30 am, “which is illegal”.
* Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu warned that the party’s state unit will march towards UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri if their leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is not released by Wednesday and Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son not held for the murder of farmers.
* Congress leader Sachin Pilot condemned the UP government’s decision to arrest Priyanka Gandhi and stop her from visiting the families of the violence victims. Stating that the act was “against constitutional values”, Pilot questioned what the Yogi Adityanath government was trying to hide.
* The Shiv Sena, one of the parties in the ruling combine in Maharashtra, Tuesday called for joint action by political parties against the prevention of opposition leaders from going to Lakhimpur Kheri.
“Lakhimpur Kheri violence has shaken the nation, Priyanka Gandhi has been arrested by the UP government, opposition leaders are being restricted from meeting farmers. There is a need for joint opposition action against oppression by the Government in UP,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said in a tweet.
* K T Rama Rao, TRS working president and son of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Tuesday expressed shock over the “ruthless murder” of farmers in Uttar Pradesh.
“Shocked and horrified to see the ruthless and cold-blooded murder of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri of Uttar Pradesh. Strongly condemn the barbaric incident and hope the perpetrators will be brought to justice the soonest,” he tweeted.
* BJP MP Varun Gandhi, sharing a video clip purportedly showing an SUV mowing down farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, demanded that police immediately identify and arrest those involved in the incident.
“This video of vehicles deliberately crushing farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri will shake anyone’s soul. Police should take cognisance of the video, identify the owners of these vehicles and their occupants, identify others involved in the incident and immediately arrest them,” Gandhi said.
* Former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal sought the intervention of PM Modi to ensure justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case as he expressed shock at the Centre’s “insensitivity and inaction”.
“Shocked by Union government’s insensitivity and inaction against those responsible for the brutal murder of innocent farmers at Lakhimpur,” a tweet from Badal’s principal adviser Harcharan Bain read.
* The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has urged Prime Minister Modi to visit Lakhimpur Kheri and meet the family members of the farmers who were killed in the recent violence there.
“I would urge you with folded hands that in this great hour of grief and sorrow, you should change your intention of organising any festival and visit Lakhimpur Kheri with the leaders of all the parties to meet family members of the farmers who were brutally crushed under the car of your minister and murdered for no reason,” AAP MP Sanjay Singh said in a letter.
“Sitting among those families, you should repent, apologise, sack your minister immediately, arrest the culprits and, being the head of the council of ministers, take the responsibility for this incident… Not only UP but the whole country is also immersed in mourning and shock, how can you celebrate a festival,” he questioned Modi.
Meanwhile, the UP government has scrambled to contain the fallout by promising a judicial probe, registering an FIR on charges of murder against the Union minister’s son and announcing compensation totalling Rs 45 lakh each for families of the deceased farmers.
Near the site of the incident in Tikunia, farm protesters arrived in large numbers throughout Monday from different parts of the state and Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand.
(With PTI inputs)