'Battle Half Won': Kin of Lakhimpur Dead Demand Justice Amidst Law Repeal Victory

The families of the deceased farmers and journalist have all called for the ouster of Ashish Mishra from his Union minister's post.

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: Nearly 700 farmers are believed to have lost their lives in the course of the year-long protests against the farm laws, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced would be repealed on Friday, November 19.

The timing of this move, on the occasion of Gurpurab which is holy to Sikhs, and a few months before the elections in states like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have sparked conversations on the motive behind it.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union, in its official statement said that even though this is a big win for the farmers, more than 700 farmers had been ‘martyred’ in this protest.

“The prime minister’s ego is responsible for these deaths,” the statement read, also noting that the way forward is currently being discussed among farm leaders. 

On October 3, in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh, eight people were killed – four of them were farmers who died after having been allegedly mowed down by the convoy belonging to Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son, Ashish.

Among the eight was Raman Kashyap, a 28-year-old reporter with Sadhna news channel. Kashyap had gone to cover this incident. His dead body was identified in the local district hospital later at night. 

Raman Kashyap’s wife, Aradhana. Photo: Ismat Ara/The Wire

Ram Dulare, Kashyap’s father who is also from a farming background, had told The Wire that his son did not go to the site to support any side, but simply to cover the protest. 

Now, more than a month later, the laws have been taken back and the Supreme Court has announced that the investigation will be overseen by retired judge Justice Rakesh Jain. When The Wire contacted Ram Dulare again, he said that even though the three laws have been withdrawn, it means nothing if no justice is given to those responsible for his son’s death.

“The minister responsible for the violence that took my son’s life must be forced to resign, and also be punished. As long as that is not done, there cannot be justice. It may be a victory for all farmers, but they have also made huge sacrifices, so many farmers have lost their lives too,” he said. 

Before the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, Ashish Mishra was campaigning as a potential candidate for the upcoming polls. Photo: Ismat Ara/The Wire

Nachhatar Singh was among protesting farmers who lost their lives during the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. The 65-year-old’s son, Jagdeep Singh, while speaking to The Wire said that this is a bittersweet moment for him. 

“Ek taraf hasi hai, dusri taraf rona,” he said. 

‘There is a smile on one side but on the other, there are tears.’

He also demanded that Ajay Mishra be sacked and punished. He said, “We have lost many farmers in this protest. The farm laws have been repealed, but please note that this is not the end of the struggle. It will only be complete when Ajay Mishra resigns, and is sent to jail.”

Also read: ‘People’s Victory, But Protests Not Over Yet’: Farmers React to News of Repeal of Laws

Referring to the apology issued by Modi in his address, Singh said that there should be a separate apology for farmers who have lost family members because of this protest. 

“Farm leaders have assured us that they will not stop demanding Ajay Mishra’s resignation even now. And now that the laws have been repealed, I want to appeal to all Indian news channels through your portal to follow the path of the truth, as ultimately that is what emerges victorious,” he said.

Nineteen-year-old Luvpreet is another farmer who had died during the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri. When The Wire visited his house after the incident, his father Satnam Singh had said that Ashish, the minister’s son, is a ‘gunda‘ (goon) and should be given a death sentence. He had also said that Ajay Mishra should be immediately removed from his position in the home ministry.

Photo of Luvpreet’s dead body shrouded in the tiranga, in his father’s mobile. Photo: Ismat Ara/The Wire

Luvpreet’s uncle, Kewal Singh, while speaking to The Wire on Friday reiterated the demand for Ajay Mishra’s resignation. He said, “He should have been sacked then itself. Now it is too late.”

Kewal said that Luvpreet’s mother Satvinder Kaur has not been able to cope with her only son’s death. “She keeps looking at his photos and crying. While we are happy that the laws have been withdrawn, we are also sad that we had to lose so much for this, including young men like Luvpreet,” he said.

He added that Luvpreet’s family is happy about the fact that no more young men will lose their lives now that the laws have been withdrawn.

Twenty-six-year-old Shubham Mishra, an active Bharatiya Janata Party worker and position holder had also been one of the victims of this violent episode. His family said that Mishra had been lynched by ‘rioters’, referring to the protesting farmers. 

Shubham Mishra’s 1-year-old daughter, Aakriti. Photo: Ismat Ara/The Wire

Anoop Mishra, his uncle, when contacted, said, “The rioters who killed our son have still not been punished but the laws have been taken back. What is there to say?”

Rampur district’s Hardeep Singh Dibdiba is the grandfather of Navreet Singh, who died on January 26 during the farmers’ tractor parade. He said that the apology was a positive step by the Narendra Modi led government.

“I consider it a win for the farmers. The perception that people had of Modi, as somebody who stands his ground and never retreats, is shattered now,” he told The Wire.