Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a conglomerate of 46 farmers’ unions, suspended activist Yogendra Yadav for a month after he visited the family of a BJP worker who died in the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri earlier this month. Mr. Yadav, who is a member of the coordinating body, will not be able to participate in any of its meetings or be part of the decision-making process.
The sources said action was taken at a meeting today after demands for action from farmers’ organizations in Punjab. Manjit Singh Rai, the president of Bhartiya Kisan Union, Doaba, told NDTV that 32 farmers’ unions are on the same page on the issue and they also want a public apology from Mr. Yadav.
Sources close to Yadav said he had gone to visit the BJP worker’s family last week as “he thought he should.”
“He said (at the meeting) that he did not regret having gone to visit the family, but that he is willing to apologize for not having discussed the issue with the farmers’ body beforehand,” the sources said.
Four farmers were run over in Lakhimpur Kheri, allegedly by Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, during a protest earlier this month. Shortly thereafter, violence and arson broke out, killing four other people.
Ashish Mishra was arrested on October 9, five days after his name in a murder case.
Four more people, including a BJP leader who was seen inside the van that ran over protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, were arrested. Among them is local BJP leader Sumit Jaiswal, who was seen in a viral video escaping from the main van in the convoy of vehicles that crushed the farmers.
Sumit Jaiswal had previously filed a complaint with the police, claiming that their vehicles lost control due to the farmers accidentally throwing rocks at them and hitting them. His driver, friend and two BJP workers were later beaten to death, he said in the complaint.
Ajay Mishra, who is the interior minister at the Center, and his son have denied they were present at the scene, although the minister told NDTV that the van belonged to his family.
Farmers and the opposition have demanded that the minister resign and take action against those responsible.
The matter has reached the Supreme Court, which has asked the Uttar Pradesh government not to “delay” and to protect and record the statements of all witnesses. “This should not be a never-ending story,” the high court has said.