The Supreme Court has taken suo moto cognizance of the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri, where farmers were allegedly mowed down by a car on October 3, triggering a violent backlash. Nine persons, including four farmers, were killed in the violence that had erupted during a farmer’s protest in Lakhimpur Kheri.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli will hear the matter on Thursday. The matter has been listed as ‘violence in Lakhimpur Kheri (UP) leading to loss of life’.
Earlier, two apex court lawyers had written to the Chief Justice seeking a CBI probe into the matter under the supervision of the top court.
The letter, written by advocates Shiv Kumar Tripathi and C.S. Panda, said: “With regard to the seriousness of the killing of the farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, it is incumbent upon this Hon’ble Court to intervene in the matter as flashed in the press.”
The lawyers had claimed that of late, violence has become the political culture of the country.
The lawyers said that there is a need to protect the rule of law in ‘violence-ravaged’ Uttar Pradesh, which is evident from media reports.
The letter said the Lakhimpur Kheri incident calls for direction against the UP government and the concerned bureaucrats along with the ‘law-breaking police’ machinery under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home, so that the “cult of violence comes to a grinding halt”.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra finally managed to meet the families of the farmers who were killed in Sunday’s violence at Tikunia village in Lakhimpur Kheri district in Uttar Pradesh.
Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and other leaders met the family of deceased farmer Lovepreet at the Chaukhada farm in Palia at around 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
They later met the family of journalist Raman Kashyap, who was also killed in violence.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Singh Hooda accompanied the Gandhi siblings during their meetings with the farmers’ families.
The entire route from Sitapur to Lakhimpur Kheri was heavily barricaded. The Lakhimpur district administration allowed only seven vehicles in the convoy to enter the district.
Former Rajasthan Deputy CM Sachin Pilot and Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam, however, were not so lucky as they were detained in Moradabad while they were on their way to Lakhimpur by car.
Earlier in the day, AAP MP Sanjay Singh also went to Lakhimpur to meet the bereaved families.
Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav and BSP General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra will be visiting Lakhimpur on Thursday.
After haggling for over an hour over the mode of transport, senior UP officials finally allowed Congress MP Rahul Gandhi to leave the Lucknow airport.
A huge crowd had gathered at the airport to welcome the Congress leader who was accompanied by Chief Ministers of Chhattisgarh and Punjab, Bhupesh Baghel and Charanjit Singh Channi, respectively.
Less than an hour after the Uttar Pradesh government said Gandhi would be allowed to visit Lakhimpur Kheri – where violence at a farmers’ protest on Sunday had left at nie dead, security personnel stopped him at the Lucknow airport.
An angry Rahul, who was accompanied by Baghel, and Channi, sat on a ‘dharna’ at the airport.
“Show this scene… they (the UP government) said that we are free to go and now they are stopping us. What kind of permission is this? This is Uttar Pradesh government’s permission,” he told the media.
Asked whether he was on a dharna now, Gandhi said: “‘Kya karun? I will sit here’.”
Earlier, police officials told the Congress leader that he would be taken in their vehicles but he declined, saying that he would use his own vehicle.
Meanwhile, the two Chief Ministers have announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 50 lakhs each to the families of those killed in Sunday’s violence at Lakhimpur.
In a significant development, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi allies Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress have called for ‘Maharashtra Bandh’ on Monday (October 11) to protest against the killing of eight persons, including four farmers, in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh on October 3.
In another rare gesture, the state Cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, observed two minutes’ silence and passed a unanimous resolution condoling the farmers’ deaths, expressing its anguish over the incident.
The MVA strongly condemned the Lakhimpur Kheri development and accused the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh for the “oppression and misuse of power”, and expressed the state government’s support for the farmers’ agitation.
Senior MVA ministers like Eknath Shinde (SS), Jayant Patil (NCP) and Balasaheb Thorat (Congress) briefed the media on the proposed ‘Maharashtra Bandh’, and said that all essential services will be kept out of its purview.
Earlier, NCP President Sharad Pawar had warned that the BJP would have to pay “a heavy price” for the brutal attack on farmers, and reiterated that the country’s entire opposition is with the peasantry.
“The responsibility for this lies with the BJP governments at the Centre and in UP. A similar situation was created in Jallianwala Bagh, we are witnessing the same scenario in UP now. The people will show them their place,” said Pawar.
Calling for united action by the three allies, Shiv Sena chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that the “Lakhimpur Kheri violence has shaken the nation”.
He said a senior Congress leader has been illegally arrested by the UP government and other opposition leaders are barred from meeting the farmers or their families.
Flaying the BJP for the farmers’ deaths, Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole said that the UP and Central governments are “scared” of the Gandhi siblings.
He demanded the dismissal of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in UP for the deaths of eight persons, including four farmers. (IANS)