Congress leaders across the country on Monday staged silent protests against the violence at Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district and demanded the resignation of Union minister Ajay Mishra.
The party’s general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra led the protests in Lucknow. She along with other leaders, including the Congress’ Uttar Pradesh unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu sat on a “maun vrat” (vow of silence) in front of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Lucknow’s GPO Park.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet that the Bharatiya Janata Party was obstructing the legal process by not removing the minister from his post.
“The central government neither cares for farmers, nor the BJP workers who became the victims of violence,” he said.
Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in the violence on October 3 during a protest against the Centre’s new agriculture laws. Farmer bodies have alleged that a vehicle which was part of Ajay Mishra’s convoy ran over the protestors. They have claimed the vehicle belonged to his son Ashish Mishra.
Three people who were in the vehicle had also died in the violence. Two of them were reportedly BJP workers while the third person was said to have been employed by Ajay Mishra as a driver.
The Uttar Pradesh Police arrested Ashish Mishra on October 9. On Monday, a court remanded him to three-day police custody.
Protests in other states
Congress members in several other states held similar silent protests.
In Mumbai, the party’s Maharashtra unit president Nana Patole led protests against the violence and called for Ajay Mishra’s resignation.
The Maharashtra government, of which the Congress is a part, had called for a state-wide bandh on Monday. During the day, bus services were disrupted in Mumbai and shops remained shut in many cities in the state.
The Karnataka Congress’ Working President Ramalinga Reddy led the protests in the state. Ahead of the protest, party leader DK Shivakumar said that no action had so far been taken against Ajay Mishra and those responsible for the violence.
“That’s why we demand justice for the farmers,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times.
At Chandigarh, Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja told reporters that the party was demanding the dismissal of the minister so that a fair investigation could be conducted in the matter, PTI reported.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet minister Sidharth Nath Singh told the news agency that the government will not be influenced by any kind of pressure in the case.
He said Congress leaders have the democratic right to hold silent protests. In an apparent reference to Manmohan Singh, he said that “a former prime minister” had been on a “maun vrat” for ten years.