At least four farmer protestors were killed after cars in a cavalcade associated with the minister of state for home affairs, Ajay Mishra Teni, ran over protesting farmers near Tikunia town in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district on 3 October. Protesters present at the scene accused Teni’s son, Ashish, of leading the violence, alleging that Ashish and his men ran their SUVs over the farmers. Angered by the attack, the farmers set fire to two of the vehicles that had been used to charge at them. In all, eight people have died. Four farmers died in the attack, while several others were seriously injured. The deceased also included three workers of the BJP, as well as the driver of one of the vehicles.
Teni is a member of the Lok Sabha from the Kheri constituency, of which Lakhimpur Kheri district is a part. A few days earlier, after he was shown black flags by protesting farmers at another event in the district’s Palia town, Teni had given a threatening speech: “Sudhar jao, nahi toh hum aapko sudhaar denge, do minute lagega keval” (You better mend your ways, or we will teach you a lesson, it will only take a couple of minutes). Hours after the incident, Teni released a video to the media denying that his son was present at the scene. He accused the farmer protesters of killing the BJP workers and the driver. He claimed that protesters had pelted stones at the cavalcade, causing the cars to run out of control. “If my son would have been there, he would not have come out alive,” Teni said. He demanded that the protesters responsible be charged with murder.
The farmers who died included 60-year-old Nakshattar Singh, 20-year-old Lovepreet Singh, 19-year-old Gurvinder Singh and 35-year-old Daljit Singh. Nakshattar resided in a village in Dhaurahra subdivision, and Lovepreet in Palia Kalan village, both in Lakhimpur Kheri district. Gurvinder and Daljit were residents of Nanpara subdivision, of the neighbouring Bahraich district. The identity of the BJP workers and the driver who died is not known.
The Samyukta Kisan Morch, or SKM, the umbrella organisation that has been leading the farmers’ protests against the centre’s proposed agricultural reforms since last year, held a virtual press conference within hours of the incident. It demanded that Teni be dismissed, and the minister and his son, as well as their other associates, be charged with murder. In a press note issued later in the evening, the SKM called the attack “brutal and inhuman.” The note said that local farmer Tajinder Singh Virk had been seriously injured in the incident. It added: “SKM also warns BJP leaders of Uttar Pradesh to stop provoking farmers of the state.”
We spoke to Richa Singh, who was present at the protest and narrated the sequence of events. Richa said that the farmers had gathered near Tikunia because Teni and the UP deputy chief minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya, were due to attend an event in the village. The farmers marched and surrounded the helipad on which Maurya’s helicopter was supposed to land, Richa said. In a video posted to social media on the afternoon on 3 October, farmer protesters can be seen marching to the helipad, sloganeering and holding up black flags. “A tractor arrived, and that became our stage,” Richa said. “It was very peaceful, we were just putting our point forward. People had come from many districts.”