Lakhimpur Kheri incident: Opposition’s tactic to corner Yogi govt?
The largest State of India, Uttar Pradesh, is scheduled to have Assembly elections in February/ March 2022. Thus, it is natural that the political battle is heating with claims and counterclaims of winning. Until about a week ago, things were rather quiet and the law and order under control with the thoughtful and fearless leadership of Yogi Adityanath. Then the unexpected gruesome death of 8 innocent people, including 4 farmers (from the Sikh community), the youngest only 19-year-old Lavpreet Singh rocked the town of Lakhimpur Kheri (LK) and the country.
Unequivocally, even one unnatural death of an innocent person by violent means is too many and we must strongly condemn no matter who is behind the killing. It is heart-wrenching to witness the brutal killing in a relatively calm area even from this far. Why would Lavpreet at that tender age have to die rather than following his dream to go to Australia?
Now, they can and will label accusations against Yogi who appeared to be the popular choice among U.P. voters.
How, why, and who questions are under active investigation; it is better not to speculate. By now, one of the accused, Ashish Mishra, the son of BJP’s MP from LK, and the Home Minister of State, Ajay Mishra, is arrested. It is alleged that Ashish Mishra was unable to provide satisfactory answers when questioned by the competent police authorities. That was one of many demands of the leaders of opposition parties who are digging deeper into the tragic deaths rather than expressing remorse. They are using it as a goldmine opportunity to destabilize, demonize, and disgrace Yogi’s government notwithstanding Yogi’s best handling of the devastating Coronavirus in the State.
What intrigues me is why LK? One of 75 districts in Uttar Pradesh, LK is neither highly developed nor known for any particular trade, craft, and/ or industry, etc. Frankly, as a UPite myself, I did not know that LK is the largest district in U.P. although I visited the city once in the late sixties. The city has its own legendary history with connections to Mahabharat which fewer people may have known.
This city welcomed many Sikh families who were allotted land parcels in post-independence India. Interesting to note that although Sikhs constitute only 2.63% of the district population, the third-largest religious group after Hindus and Muslims, they own the largest landholding of around 7 acres/ family according to a 2008 report. The report cites that the land value per Sikh household is the highest (Rs.10.92 lakhs) compared to Hindus and Muslims of Rs.3.15 and Rs.1.78 lakhs, respectively.
The overall riches of an average Sikh household are considerably higher from the cultivation of cash crops like sugarcane but it appears that they wield little political power. Reportedly, the farmers here are unhappy with Yogi’s announcement of a sugarcane price increase of only Rs.25/quintal.
Not surprisingly, the Sikh community in LK has an allegiance with Punjab farmers. The latter has been a part of the yearlong Kisan agitation demanding the revocation of the Farmer’s bill enacted by the Parliament last year. Many attempts to negotiate and reconcile the differences between the agitators and the government have failed but the laws remain suspended for the time being.
Unlike Sikh farmers in the LK area, not many farmers support the agitation in Western U.P. where I was born. In fact, my farmer brother tells me that the agitation in the Saharanpur district is almost non-existent.
It is my understanding that not the true farmers but the ‘farmers in disguise’ in Punjab have been up in arms. The disguised farmers are the middleman, the so-called commission agents, who stand to lose undue influence with the enactment of the newly passed Farmer’s bill. In fact, the new laws empower the farmers to sell their produce at will for the best price they can fetch. This will free the farmers from the clutches of the stronghold of the family like the former Punjab Chief Minister Badal. It is India’s misfortune that the relatively ill-educated small farmers are being exploited by the politicians and self-proclaimed farmer’s leaders like Rakesh Tikait.
It should be noted that Tikait, who belongs to Western Uttar Pradesh, has a little following which, I am sure, frustrates him. He has been agitating on the fringes of the U.P.-Delhi border. He knows too well that fearless Yogi will not allow any protests beyond being peaceful. If Tikait has his way, he may want to see the entire State of Uttar Pradesh going in flames; he has even attempted to incite religious-based sentiments from the podium, the most shameful act for a born Hindu.
It is abundantly clear that the farmer’s protests are politically supported and exploited by the Congress-led States like Punjab, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh with little presence in the BJP-led States like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan. The sad truth is that the unfortunate events in LK have given the opposition parties not only in Uttar Pradesh but far beyond the goldmine they are exploiting to the hilt. It is so senseless and insensitive that the gruesome killings and loss of lives are being politicized in the hope of drawing the Sikh’s vote bank to their own portfolio. While every voter count, the total number of Sikh voters across the State is not too large to matter in the final outcome.
Who is funding and fueling the Kisan agitation for nearly one year? In my informed view, it is not the small farmers, who can barely make their ends meet, who are agitating. The crowd includes hired agitators who are offered sumptuous food and facilities funded by brokers, businessmen, political leaders opposed to BJP, and most unfortunately the select Sikh community subscribing to the Khalistan movement in Punjab and beyond.
The Sikh group belonging to the Khalistan movement has its wings in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. with deep pockets. This movement was intensified when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allowed the army to go in the Golden Temple. Pakistan is fueling the Khalistan movement to avenge India since Indira Gandhi had helped Bangladesh liberation.
LK’s turn of events became the perfect storm for Tikait and political parties who were otherwise running out of steam and did not have anything to potential voters. Now, they can and will label accusations against Yogi who appeared to be the popular choice among U.P. voters. I believe that when the investigations are complete and the dust settles, the opposition parties will suffer dire consequences at the polling booths.
UPites will soon know the truth and everyone found guilty will get punished in fearless Yogi’s government. At the risk of speculation, the locals were being instigated by some disgruntled Sikhs who were disappointed that their plans to show black flags during UP’s Deputy Chief Minister’s rally failed when his route was changed at the last minute. Clearly, the crowd must have assembled there at the behest of misinformed Tikait.
At this juncture, nothing can be ruled out. It may be the conspiracy by opposition parties, select Sikh groups believing in the Khalistan movement, Ajay Mishra’s goons going ashtray, and/ or Tikait’s ill-gotten dreams of creating nuisance in U.P.
Based on what I have seen, I cannot but express my full confidence in Yogi’s fearless, thoughtful, and just leadership. He does not favor Hindus nor despises Muslims but he respects rule of law and rejects lawlessness. He is religion-blind when it comes to social justice but as a proud Hindu, he is a firm believer in the principles of Sanatan Dharma such as Sarve Bhavantu Sukhino. He will not deter from his longstanding leadership of punishing the guilty as is evident from so many examples in the last four and half years of his administration.
If we have any place in India with Ram Rajya, it is today’s Uttar Pradesh where Lord Ram will figuratively reside in his historical and magnificent Mandir at Ayodhya. May the fearless leadership of Yogi continue to preserve and protect law and order and let us hope that the LK community regains normalcy having sacrificed 8 innocent lives.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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