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New Delhi: A viral video purportedly showing protesting farmers being run over by an SUV in Lakhmipur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh has gone viral on social media. The video was first shared on Twitter on Monday by Tractor for Twitter, a handle run by farmers protesting against the Union government’s contentious laws.
A total of eight people were killed on Sunday in Lakhmipur Kheri, including four farmers and one freelance journalist.
The video lasts for 29 seconds. According to NDTV, the police is yet to verify its authenticity. The visuals shared do not make clear who is driving the SUV. In the video, the car is seen ramming into people who fall down, while others try to flee the scene. Another SUV, with sirens on, follows the first car.
Among the many political leaders and others who shared the video on social media was one unlikely face – BJP MP Varun Gandhi.
लखीमपुर खीरी में किसानों को गाड़ियों से जानबूझकर कुचलने का यह वीडियो किसी की भी आत्मा को झखझोर देगा।
पुलिस इस वीडियो का संज्ञान लेकर इन गाड़ियों के मालिकों, इनमें बैठे लोगों, और इस प्रकरण में संलिप्त अन्य व्यक्तियों को चिन्हित कर तत्काल गिरफ्तार करे।
— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) October 5, 2021
Protesting farmers have said that the deaths were caused by an SUV driven by Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra’s son, Ashish Mishra. The minister, however, claims that his son was not at the scene. An FIR citing murder charges has been filed against Ashish.
Families of the killed farmers said on Monday that they would not cremate the bodies until they were given copies of the autopsy reports, NDTV reported.
While protests were on at the site and tensions were high through most of Sunday and Monday, including displaying the bodies of the killed farmers, the area cleared up by Monday afternoon. Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait spoke to senior leaders in the Uttar Pradesh government and then spoke to the protestors at the site, asking them to go home and promising that justice would be served.
“Veer shahidon ka balidan, yaad karega Hindustan (The country will remember the sacrifice of the brave martyrs),” Tikait said, adding that it was a big victory that a murder case had been registered against Ashish Mishra and Rs 45 lakh compensation had been promised to the victims’ families, The Hindu reported.
“The minister and his son will not be spared…he will lose his ministerial post,” Tikait assured the protestors. If satisfactory action is not take in 10-12 days while the killed mens’ funeral proceedings took place, the BKU said, a mahapanchayat will be called.
The government has said that a retired judge will probe the incident.
According to The Tribune, in addition to the case against Ashish Mishra and others, a counter-FIR has also been registered against protesting farmers. The first FIR has been registered under Section 302 (murder), Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 147 (rioting) of the Indian Penal Code.
This FIR, according to the newspaper, is based on the complaint of the family of a BJP worker who was allegedly killed in the violence. It names Amandeep Singh Sindhu, Mahendra Singh, Jejender Singh Virk and some unknown persons.
Meanwhile, many opposition leaders were stopped on their way to try and visit the victims’ families on Monday. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was among them, and has now been in detention for more than 28 hours. On Tuesday morning, while sharing the purported video of the incident, she asked why the police was taking action against her rather than the driver of the vehicle.
“@narendramodi ji your government has detained me for the past 28 hours without any order or FIR. How come the person who ran over farmers has not been arrested yet?” she said in a tweet in Hindi.
Congress media and communication vice chairman Pankaj Srivastava said the party general secretary, who was detained at 4:30 am on Monday, has been in detention for the past 28 hours. “She is not being allowed to meet her lawyers and the administration is not telling her reasons for her detention,” he said.
Besides Priyanka, state Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu, national secretary Dheeraj Gurjar, Youth Congress national president B.V. Srinivas and party MLC Deepak Singh are also under detention, Srivastava said.
(With PTI inputs)