BJP Minister visits Lakhimpur; skips meeting kin of dead farmers
Uttar Pradesh Law Minister Brijesh Pathak Wednesday visited the families of two victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. However, Pathak skipped meeting the families of farmers, who died after being mowed down by the convoy of Union Minister Ajay Mishra. Notably, this was the first such visit by a senior BJP leader to the area since the October 3 incident. Here are more details.
Pathak's visit was reportedly limited to the families of two victims: BJP worker Shubham Mishra and MoS Ajay Mishra's driver Hari Om Mishra. The Minister did not meet the families of four other victims from the area. These include farmers Nachhattar Singh and Lovepreet Singh, BJP worker Shyam Sunder Nishad, and journalist Raman Kashyap. Two other farmer victims were from the neighboring Bahraich district.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Pathak said that he will visit the families of BJP worker Nishad and journalist Kashyap "as soon as the situation normalizes in that region as they live close to the spot where the incident took place." On when he plans on visiting the families of the farmer victims, Pathak reiterated that he is waiting for the situation to normalize.
While visiting the families of Shubham Mishra and Hari Om Mishra, Pathak reportedly promised to fulfill their demands. These include the issuance of arms licenses, the status of BJP martyr, and a fair investigation. Talking about his visit, Pathak said, "The families had some demands, including for a weapon license as there is a security threat...I promised them that it would be looked into."
Both Hari Om and Shubham's families told TIE that the Minister had assured them that the victims will be accorded BJP martyr status. Apart from promising a fair probe, the grieving families said Pathak has also assured that both the families will be "looked after." Shubham's uncle Anoop Mishra told TIE that Pathak had also assured them that "our daughter-in-law will get a job."
Meanwhile, both Nishad and Kashyap's families expressed unhappiness over not being visited by the Minister. Both the families maintained that they would like to meet anyone who wants to share their grief. BJP district chief Sunil Singh said another delegation led by the party's state General Secretary Amar Pal Maurya would visit Nishad and Kashyap's families on October 16.
Guru Sevak, the brother of a farmer victim from Bahraich, told TIE that the Minister "should not come for politics, but to share our sorrow," adding, "If he wants to come, he should remove his party's flag and come."
The Opposition Congress slammed the Minister's visit, saying it is nothing but an "attempt to divert the focus and course of the investigation." "This government protects criminals and such visits, 10 days after the incident, shows that they have no intention of ensuring justice for the victims," UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said. The Samajwadi Party also called the visit "just a formality."
Separately, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said that it is "too early for a BJP minister to visit the families of farmer victims as there may be a reaction from the families." He said "permission" should be taken from the families before any visit.
Four farmers died in UP's Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3 after Union Minister Ajay Mishra's convoy mowed down a group of protesting farmers. Four others were also killed in the ensuing clash. Farmers alleged that the Minister's son, Ashish Mishra, was driving the vehicle that killed the protesters. Ashish was arrested on October 9 and sent to three-day police custody on Monday.