An uneasy calm prevailed in Lakhimpur Kheri on Monday, a day after eight people, including four farmers, were killed in violent clashes during a farmers’ protest.
Personnel from the Sahastra Seema Bal (SSB) and state police have been deployed in large numbers here to maintain normalcy following the incident on Sunday that triggered nationwide outrage.
Many vehicles bearing registration numbers of Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana had travelled to the state as their occupants expressed solidarity with the farmers. They were seen near the spot where two overturned SUVs lay by the sides of the road.
The spot has become a centre of attention with several people posing in front of the vehicles and getting their pictures or selfies clicked.
About the incident, Dharambir Singh and Jarnail Singh Kale from Uttarakhand’s Udham Singh Nagar district said, “Farmers were protesting peacefully that day.
We should get justice. If the culprits are not arrested then we will intensify agitation and also protest countrywide.”
They claimed that over 2,000 vehicles from the hill state have reached in support of the agitating farmers and added that the locals are also supporting them.
“They are organising langar for us,” the two farmers said.
Recalling the clash, local villager Mansoor Ali said that on Sunday villagers saw speeding SUVs coming at the spot suddenly and crushing protestors. The vehicles later turned turtle, he said.
Normal life appeared affected, not only in Tikonia, but the entire Lakhimpur Kheri district after the violence as prohibitory orders were imposed here under Section 144 of the CrPC and Internet services discontinued to maintain law and order.
Due to the restrictions, most of the shops remained shut, except those dealing with medicines and essential goods. Fewer people were seen in public places here in the morning but as the day passed more people came outside and gathered at roadside shops.
Farmers leader Rakesh Tikait had arrived at Tikonia, around 60 km from the district headquarters, in the early hours of Monday, sat with the agitating farmers and placed their demands before the reporters. He was not spotted there later.
Post-mortem of the four deceased farmers was conducted in the post-mortem house in the district headquarters and their bodies were handed over to their relatives for last rituals.
They were identified as Daljeet Singh (32) and Gurvinder Singh (20), both from Bahraich district, and Lavpreet Singh (30) of Chaukhada farm and Nachhatar Singh (65) from Nandapurwa village, both falling in Kheri.
Post-mortem of three BJP workers identified as Hariom (35), Shyam Sundar (40) and Shubham Mishra (30), all from Kheri district, and a local scribe Raman Kasyap (28) was carried out late on Sunday night. Their last rites were performed by their kin on Monday.
The agitating farmers agreed to the post-mortem of the four bodies after the Uttar Pradesh government announced a committee headed by a retired high court judge to probe the clash and a compensation of Rs 45 lakh each for the families of the deceased.
A policeman on duty here said on condition of anonymity that around five companies of central paramilitary force Sahastra Seema Bal (numbering around 500 personnel) and two companies of state police, including those from the neighbouring districts of Hardoi, Lakhimpur and Unnao, were part of the security arrangement in Tikonia.
This was the bloodiest clash since the farmers’ protest over the Centre agriculture laws began last year.
Four of the dead were farmers, allegedly knocked down by vehicles driven by BJP workers travelling to welcome Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
The others were BJP workers and their driver, allegedly pulled out of the vehicles and then lynched by the protesters. Two cars were set on fire.
Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra, who is a two-time BJP MP of from Kheri, has denied allegation by the farmers’ unions that his son was in one of the cars.