Saturday, Jan 29, 2022

Lakhimpur Kheri: Hundreds Pour Into UP To Offer Prayers At 'Antim Ardas' of Slain Farmers

The 'antim ardas' for all the slain farmers will be held on Tuesday at Tikonia and according to farmer leaders, no politicians will be allowed to speak on stage at the event.

Lakhimpur Kheri: Hundreds Pour Into UP To Offer Prayers At 'Antim Ardas' of Slain Farmers

Over a week since the violence at Lakhimpur Kheri killed eight people including four farmers, protesters and supporters have been pouring into Uttar Pradesh from across several states to offer their last prayers to the farmers who lost their lives in the October 3 violence.

"The "antim ardas" for all the slain farmers will be held on Tuesday at Tikonia," BKU-Tikait''s district president Amandeep Singh Sandhu said on Monday.  Preparations for the "antim ardas" (final prayers) are underway at a field, away from the spot where the violence took place in Tikonia village.

While the Congress said its leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will also attend the event, a Bharatiya Kisan Union member asserted no politician will be allowed to share the dais with farmer leaders during the last prayers for the four farmers killed in the incident.

The violence during a protest over Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's visit had left eight people dead, including the four farmers.

The collective "antim ardas" is expected to be attended by farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and farmer leaders, including Rakesh Tikait, are expected.

BKU-Tikait's district president Amandeep Singh Sandhu said, "Preparations are underway for the 'antim ardas' (final prayers) at a field, away from the spot where the violence took place in Tikonia village."

National secretary of the RLD, Anil Dubey, said his party leader Jayant Chaudhary is scheduled to go to Lakhimpur Kheri.

Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh said, "Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will go to Lakhimpur Kheri to attend the 'antim ardaas'. She will be accompanied by UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu. Other senior party leaders who are likely to go along with Priyanka ji are Dheeraj Gurjar, Rohit Chaudhary, Pramod Tiwari, Aradhna Misra and Deepak Singh."

However, BKU-Tikait district vice-president Balkar Singh said, "No political leader will be allowed to share the stage where only Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders will be present".

The SKM is an umbrella organisation of farmer unions spearheading the protest against the Centre's three contentious farm laws, which were enacted last year.

Police personnel in large numbers are being deployed in the area to ensure smooth movement of the public and maintain law and order.

Baba Kala Singh of the Kaudiyala Ghat gurdwara at Tikonia village said an "akhand path" had started on Sunday.

"It is currently going on and likely to conclude on Tuesday around 9 am," he said.

"The families of the farmers killed in the violence are likely to arrive tomorrow. A pandal has been set up on the outskirts of Tikonia," he said.

"People from Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand are arriving in their own vehicles. They are putting up a pandal on an agriculture field. The atmosphere is peaceful here. At present, there is not much crowd," he said.

"Farmers and leaders of various farm unions from other states and districts of Uttar Pradesh will participate in the 'ardas' and 'bhog' programme in Tikonia," Sandhu said, adding that "no other programme has been communicated so far".

Sukhdev Singh, the uncle of Gurvinder Singh, a farmer of Bahraich's Moharnia village killed in the violence, told PTI that a "bhog" was held at the houses of Gurvinder Singh and Daljit Singh of Banjaran Tada, who had also died during the violence.

The "akhand paath" at the Kaudiyala Ghat gurdwara will be followed by a collective "antim ardas" and "langar" on Tuesday, he said.

Sukhdev Singh said Ludhiana MLA Harsimran Bains had attended the programme at Moharnia on Monday.

The four farmers were allegedly knocked down by a vehicle carrying BJP workers.
Infuriated farmers then allegedly lynched some people. The other dead included two BJP workers and their driver. A local journalist had also died in the violence.

Farmers claimed that Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra was in one of the vehicles, an allegation denied by him and his father. The SKM had demanded the arrest of the father-son duo.

Ashish Mishra was arrested after 12 hours of questioning late on Saturday night.

The farmer unions had said if the government did not accept their demands by October 11, they will take out a "Shaheed Kisan Yatra" from Lakhimpur Kheri with the ashes of the dead farmers.

The SKM has also given a call for a "rail roko" protest across the country from 10 am to 4 pm on October 18 and a mahapanchayat in Lucknow on October 26.

Ajay Mishra should be dismissed as a minister and arrested on the charges of spreading disharmony, murder and conspiracy, farm leaders had said earlier.

A nine-member SIT headed by Deputy Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) Upendra Agarwal has been formed to investigate the FIR lodged against the minister's son and others in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

(With inputs from PTI)


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