Eight people were killed on Sunday as violence erupted during a farmers’ protest, claiming the lives of both farmers and BJP workers ahead of a visit to Lakhimpur by Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, officials said.
Two SUVs were set on fire by angry farmers in the clash near Banbirpur in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Four of the victims were people in the cars — reportedly a part of the group of BJP workers that had come to welcome the minister – who were thrashed to death by the protesters, according to officials.
The four others were farmers, they said.
Farmer leaders claimed that at least one of the vehicles knocked down some farmers protesting over the contentious farm laws enacted at the Centre. But, according to an official account, the vehicle overturned when farmers hurled stones at it.
The violence triggered an outburst, with opposition parties blaming the state government for the deaths.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was headed to Lakhimpur on Sunday night. So were Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary and Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Rakesh Tikait.
In Lakhimpur, police said in the evening that the law and order situation was under control.
Farmer leaders claimed the son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra was in one of the cars which they said knocked down some protesters who were opposing the deputy CM’s visit.
The MoS, however, denied the claim.
A state government official said farmers waved black flags as the cavalcade passed. At its rear end, a vehicle overturned collapsing over two farmers, who were killed.
Four people were then pulled out of the vehicles and beaten to death, officials said.
Union Minister Mishra told PTI that these victims were three BJP workers and a driver, beaten to death by “some elements” among the protesting farmers.
The car had turned turtle after the protesters pelted stones at the cavalcade, he said.
Mishra said his son was not present at the spot as alleged by some farmer leaders and he has photo and video evidence to prove it.
“My son was present at the venue of the (deputy chief minister’s) event and thousands of people, officers of the administration and police were present there. All through, I was accompanying the deputy chief minister,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rakesh Tikait has demanded Mishra’s dismissal and the registration of a case of murder against his son and “other goons”.
The farmers’ unions have also announced a protest at district magistrate offices across the country on Monday.
Tikait claimed that the farmers were “attacked” while they were returning from the Lakhimpur protest. Some of them were run over and they were also fired upon, he alleged in a video clip.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also blamed the Union Minister’s son for the violence, and said the farmers were protesting peacefully.
“UP will not tolerate the oppression of the BJP,” he tweeted in Hindi.
RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary also claimed that minister Ajay Mishra’s cavalcade ran over protesting farmers. The BKU alleged that it was the car of the minister’s son. PTI