Mini Jallianwala Bagh in up Farmers Mowed Down in Lakhimpur

The October 3 violence and killings in Lakhimpur Kheri, in the ‘sugar bowl’ in Central Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), seems a cataclysmic peak of a year-long agitation by farmers in the heart of the Indo-Gangetic states- Punjab, Haryana, Delhi outskirts and parts of U.P.- against the Union Government’s three Farm Laws, but is much more than meets the eye.

At least eight persons were killed in that day’s ghastly incidents – four farmers, three workers said to be belonging to the BJP and a Journalist-, sending shock waves across the country, just a day after Gandhi Jayanthi, a throwback to sordid memories of Jallianwala Bagh in run-up to the 2022 Assembly elections in Yogi Adityanath-led BJP-ruled U.P.

The bloodshed that day at Lakhimpur Kheri, where farmers were protesting against both the Modi Government’s three Farm Laws and nonpayment of their long-pending sugarcane dues for produce sold to private and cooperative sugar mills, was the ghastliest in recent months in North India.

Eye-witness accounts and video footage from the scene of violence – Tikunia-, widely quoted and telecast in the media, show how the violence was triggered when a convoy of vehicles, linked to a union minister, mowed down four farmers there. In certain other violent incidents that followed, three others, said to be BJP workers, lost their lives.

If this was gory enough, even more shocking were several eye-witnesses at the scene saying that the Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni’s son, Ashish Mishra, was allegedly in one of the SUVs’, part of the convoy that crushed the protesting farmers. Ajay Mishra was inducted into the Modi Government Cabinet in the last Union Cabinet major reshuffle.

While both Ajay Mishra and his son Ashish Mishra have categorically denied the allegations against them, the FIR registered by the U.P. Police in this case, on the basis of a complaint by a local farmer, a witness to the carnage, has mentioned Ashish Mishra and alleged that the latter had “fired shots”, resulting in the death of farmer Gurvinder Singh.

Amid intense Opposition parties’ protest, demanding the arrest of Ashish Mishra, named in the FIR and the “removal” of Ajay Mishra from the Union Cabinet, the U.P. Police have been asserting that the FIR was only the first, formal starting point and that a detailed investigation of all angles was on.

Was Ashish Mishra, son of the Union MoS, really there in one of the SUVs’ that mercilessly ran over the protesting farmers is now the million-dollar question. What complicated matters is that, apart from the retaliatory violence on three BJP workers, is a purported provocative speech earlier made by Ajay Mishra (as seen in a video) that he could “discipline” the protesting farmers in “two minutes if they did not mend their ways”. Apparently, Ajay Mishra, the only Brahmin to be now inducted into the Modi Cabinet, is a local strongman, part of the new political Hindutva balance of power in Uttar Pradesh.


Opposition leaders led by Congress General Secretary, Priyanka Gandhi, who rushed to Lakhimpur Kheri to meet and console the kin of the grieving farmers, were all prevented from reaching even Lucknow. Priyanka who managed to get past was detained at Sitapur, which former Union Finance and Home Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram condemned as a totally illegal arrest. She was later let off.

Congress Chief Ministers including Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and the new Punjab Chief Minister, Charanjit Singh Channi, were not even allowed to land in Lucknow. Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who too faced hurdles in reaching Lakhimpur Kheri, staged a ‘dharna’ at the Lucknow airport on October 6. After a long procedural wrangle, Rahul was allowed to proceed to Lakhimpur Kheri, along with Punjab and Chhattisgarh Chief Ministers and Priyanka, where he later met the grieving kin of farmers.

Former U.P. Chief Minister, Akilesh Yadav, who was detained in Lucknow, held a sit-in stir, even as the BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra was put under house arrest in Lucknow when he set out for Lakhimpur Kheri. Significantly, only the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader, Rakesh Tikaiat, was allowed to reach Lakhimpur Kheri with his supporters.

Meanwhile, Haryana’s BJP Chief Minister Manohar Lal Kattar’s call for mobilizing volunteers in every district to give “tit-for-tat lessons” to the protesting farmers, only seemed to reinforce the threat call against ryots by Union Minister Ajay Mishra, before all hell broke loose at the sugarcane village.

Even stranger was a quick “settlement” the U.P. administration reached with the BKU leader Rakesh Tikaiat, ostensibly on the aggrieved farmers’ behalf, which included a compensation package of Rs. 45 lakh and a government job for one person from each of the families of the four farmers who were crushed to death. The U.P. Government has also announced a probe by a retired High Court Judge.

Though Tikaiat later demanded that the U.P. Government must arrest the controversial Ashish Mishra within a week, BJP spokespersons in Delhi have been condemning the Congress and other opposition parties for seeking to exploit a tragic occurrence at Lakhimpur Kheri for their political ends.

However, Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel minced no words in declaring: “The barbarism seen in Lakhimpur has outraged the Nation. The BJP line is to crush the farmers and they are inspired by the British. We were yesterday reminded of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. What is the mindset of the Central Government? So many States have passed resolutions against the Farm Laws……. Is this the way to treat farmers in a democracy?”

The Maratha strongman and NCP leader and a farmers’ representative himself, Sharad Pawar also said in a statement that the incidents were a throwback to Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, where British sepoys ruthlessly fired into an unarmed crowd, a turning point in India’s freedom struggle. At the time of filing this report on October 7, the Supreme Court heard Suo motu the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and deaths and asked for a detailed status report from U.P.


In Chennai, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M.K. Stalin, condemned the Lakhimpur Kheri violence on the farmers, stating that the Union Government’s “indifference” towards farmers’ issues has led to such violent incidents. Only a total repeal of the three Farm Laws will end the impasse between the Government and the farmers, Mr. Stalin said.