Lakhimpur Kheri: How Rakesh Tikait helped reach government-farmer deal
Farmers had ramped up protests in Uttar Pradesh after Sunday, when a state minister's convoy mowed down a rally of demonstrators in Lakhimpur Kheri. The incident sparked massive outrage as eight people—including four farmers—lost their lives. However, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait helped lead talks with the authorities to strike a deal between the farmers and the government, thus containing the fallout.
Tikait asked UP government to block Opposition leaders
After Sunday's incident, Rakesh Tikait was called for mediation as he is considered the face of the protests in UP. He reportedly reached Lakhimpur Kheri at 1:30 am Monday and the talks between the two parties ended nearly 12 hours later. According to The Indian Express, it was Tikait who asked the UP government to prevent Opposition leaders from reaching Lakhimpur to avoid escalation.
Talks held in '3 stages'
An officer from the ground told TIE that Tikait did not express any criticism toward the government. The talks were reportedly held in "three stages" at a building in the vicinity. Lakhimpur Kheri District Magistrate Arvind Chaurasiya and Superintendent of Police Vijay Dhull met with a Tikait-led delegation of farmers thrice. The delegation comprised two of Tikait's confidants and four local Sikh farmers.
What were the farmers' demands?
The farmers' delegation had presented four demands. These included a case against Union Minister Ajay Mishra—whose convoy killed the farmers—and his son Ashish, accused of driving the vehicle used to run over the rally. The other demands included an FIR copy, a compensation of Rs. 1 crore to each family of the deceased farmers, and a government job for one member of their family.
Officers feared clashes during talks
The officers had asked the farmers to reduce the demand for financial compensation and do away with the government job. Officers told TIE that during negotiations, there were moments where they feared any small incident could trigger a clash.
Deal eventually struck with Rs. 45L compensation for deceased's kin
Around 1 pm on Monday, a team of officials held the final talks with the farmers' delegation. Carrying a copy of the FIR against Ashish, the officers negotiated a compensation of Rs. 45 lakh for families of those deceased and Rs. 10 lakh for those injured. Officers were also reluctant on holding a press conference on the final deal, but Tikait insisted on one.