Amidst presence of a heavy police force and thousands of sympathisers, the ‘antim ardas’ (Sikh religious prayers) to pay homage to deceased farmers and a journalist killed in Lakhimpur Kheri violence, passed off peacefully with the organisers strictly barring politicians from coming on the stage where the remains of the deceased were kept, in Tikunia area on Tuesday.
Farmers unions agitating against the three farm laws also observed 'Shaheed Kisan Diwas' (Martyred Farmers' Day).
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra joined a large gathering of farmers from various states in Tikonia village to be part of the last prayers to pay homage to the four deceased farmers and a journalist. Donning a grey salwar-kurta, Priyanka was seen with her hands folded in front of the photographs of the four farmers and bowed before a stage with the Guru Granth Sahib, in videos tweeted by her party. Accompanied by other Congress leaders, Priyanka Vadra reached the venue around 1 pm on Tuesday.
Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leaders, including Rakesh Tikait, Darshan Singh Pal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Dharmendra Malik and other local farmers’ union leaders also arrived in the village to pay tributes to the deceased.
Samajwadi Party leaders, including its Lakhimpur district unit chief Rampal Singh Yadav, Dr RA Usmani and others were also among those who reached there to pay tributes.
No political leader was allowed to share the stage, as announced earlier. Bhartiya Kisan Union (Tikait) district vice-president Balkar Singh had already made it clear that no political leader would be allowed to share the stage where only SKM leaders would be present.
On the stage set up at a sprawling ground, family members of deceased farmers Daljeet Singh and Gurvinder Singh of Bahraich, Nachhatar Singh and Lavpreet Singh of Lakhimpur Kheri, brother and daughter of deceased journalist Raman Kashyap of Nighasan (Kheri) sat holding photographs of their kin.
Meanwhile, security was tightened in and around Tikunia to maintain law and order during the ‘antim ardas’ programme. Apart from Lakhimpur Kheri police, Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), Rapid Action Force and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel were pressed into service. Senior police and administrative officials were also deputed to supervise and coordinate the security arrangements.
IG (Lucknow range) Lakshmi Singh, who has been camping in Lakhimpur Kheri, said, “We are in touch with the family members of those killed in the Tikunia incident and local farmers’ leaders. They have assured us that ‘antim ardas’ will be organised in a peaceful manner. Adequate numbers of local police and PAC personnel have been deployed in the area to ensure law and order.”