After the death of at least four farmers in the violent clashes in Lakhimpur Kheri district, Uttar Pradesh, student bodies protested in solidarity with the Farmers’ movement. Also faced detention from Delhi Police in the process.
On October 4, 2021, to show their support to the farmers and protest against the ways of the BJP government, student bodies of-AISA (All India Students Association) SFI (Students Federation of India), AIDWA (All India Democratic Women’s Association), DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India), CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) and AIKS (All India Kisan Sabha), marched from Vijay Nagar to Arts Faculty in Delhi. Later in the protest, the Delhi Police detained several members of the protest and it is alleged that violence was also used.
On October 3, 2021, violence erupted between the protesting framers and BJP workers in the Lakhimpur Kheri district, Uttar Pradesh. It resulted in the death of 8; 4 farmers and other 4 from BJP’s convoy.
There is ambiguity surrounding the event but the farmers claim that around 3 p.m., a car driven by Ashish Mishra, son of Minister of State (MoS) for Home Ajay Mishra, ran over farmers protesting against the Centre’s three farm laws ahead of an event in Tikunia where state’s Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya was to be present. Following this were the clashes between farmers and BJP workers, resulting in further deaths and injuries.
Ashish Mishra declined these claims and said that he was in Banwaripur since 9 am that day. The party alleges that the farmers started pelting stones at their cars which led to the death of the driver and later set their vehicles on fire.
Abhigyan from AISA, in conversation with DU Beat, discussed the reason for the protest, “It (protest) was taken when the news of the gruesome murder by the stooges of BJP Government in UP of the protesting farmers. We have seen how BJP and its media have tried to malign, vilify and demonize the farmers’ movement. This incident generated nationwide anger against the inhuman nature of BJP’s reaction to the mass movement and we can clearly see how flustered the BJP is about the farmer mobilizations in UP before the upcoming state elections.”
The three farm laws were passed by the Parliament of India in September 2020 and the farmers’ have been protesting against them since November 2020. These student associations have keenly shown their support for the farmers and have demanded the repeal of the three laws by organising marches and protests. For instance, on February 4, 2021, student organisations, including AISA and SFI carried out the march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar for the cause.
Despite heavy resistance from the Delhi Police this time, they carried on to Arts Faculty, collectively called for the arrest of Ashish Mishra for running his car over and killing the peacefully protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, and also demanded the resignation of Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Ajay Mishra.
A press release by AISA Delhi described, “As soon as the protesters gathered, Delhi Police violently cracked down on all, injuring several, and detaining those present at UP Bhavan. Some activists, including Neha, AISA Delhi State Secretary, who marched from the Malcha Market towards UP Bhavan, also faced violence, manhandling, and detention.”
Abhigyan added, “At the protest at UP Bhavan, about 20 comrades of AISA among many other protesters were detained right away and taken to Mandir Marg Police Station. They were threatened about filing FIRs, something the Delhi Police has made a habit of. People were beaten, manhandled by the police. They were finally released around 4 p.m. that day.”
Surprisingly, the students’ activists have faced such a reaction by the Delhi Police in several instances like while protesting against hate slogans at Jantar Mantar in August 2021.
A statement released by SFI on 4th October, undersigned by Sumit Kataria (President) and Pritish Menon (Secretary) said, “Even after 10 months, the fact that incident like yesterday’s is still possible, shows that not only the BJP is indifferent to the farmers’ movement, but is violently antagonistic to it as well. We should not mince words and call yesterday’s horrific event nothing less than manslaughter.”
The common sentiment in the protesters was of disbelief in the BJP government of Uttar Pradesh who “brutally crushing voices of farmers, students, youth, Dalit and Muslims through Police atrocities.”
When asked the future action on this by SFI, Prishti (President) said that they are in complete coordination with the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKU) and will support their calls.
From the 7th to the 13th of October, AISA will be holding various types of programs and campaigns against these brutal killings, as well as raising the demands of the farmer movement at large.
As of now, the UP government has announced a compensation of 45 lakh to the families of deceased farmers and 10 lakhs to injured farmers. They have also said that a new committee will be formed which will investigate the matter under the chairmanship of a retired judge.
Image credits: AISA