It was only a matter of time before an incident like the one in Lakhimpur Kheri took place. Thus far, the Union and State Governments had managed to avoid bloodshed by exercising considerable restraint. However, a direct confrontation between protesting ‘farmers’ and others was inevitable, as the police cannot be everywhere. Over time, the protestors have been getting more belligerent, with elements among them not bothering to respect even national symbols, as in the Red Fort case, or the recent refusal to allow passage to an Army convoy.
The UP Government has quickly resolved the stand-off in Lakhimpur by promising compensation and jobs to the families of those allegedly run over deliberately by vehicles carrying BJP workers. This was imperative as UP is, presently, in election mode. Tempers cannot be allowed to escalate further. A high-level investigation has been promised, which is absolutely necessary, because there is also the matter of a driver and BJP workers having been bludgeoned to death by the ‘farmers’. While there is video available of the beatings, there has been none, so far, of the vehicles being deliberately driven into the crowd.
While the protest in Punjab has its roots in not just farmers’ angst, but also other forces, its spread to other parts has been the result of political wannabes like Rakesh Tikait getting involved. He is discovering now that he is astride a tiger difficult to dismount. The bullying behaviour by protestors blocking important highways has greatly alienated local people against the ‘farmers’ – the effects will be felt for a long time to come.
Of course, this has given a great opportunity to the political parties to further their campaign against the ruling BJP in UP. They have all rushed to the site – be it Akhilesh Yadav, Priyanka Vadra, or leaders of AAP and BSP. In fact, it is alleged that the protestors involved in the incident were led by a local SP leader. The early allegation that Union MoS (Home) Ajay Mishra’s son was driving one of the cars involved has already been proven false. Indeed, it was also wrongly claimed that the protestors had been ‘shot’ dead. Perhaps, this is why no postmortem was allowed by the farmers’ leaders. If the investigations are carried out properly and speedily, the truth will come out for all to see.
The basic lesson those in power must learn from this incident is to no longer allow protestors to gain a foothold on the roads and highways for any reason, at any time. The Supreme Court has ruled against it and the Lakhimpur incident provides the justification for this preventive measure.