Lucknow/ New Delhi:
One of the victims of the violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday was a 19-year-old farmer. Lovepreet Singh, in his dying moments, called his father from his hospital bed and begged him to come quickly.
“When they took him to hospital, he called, I said ‘beta, how are you’. He said ‘Papa, main theek hoon. Jaldi aa Jao (I am ok. Please come soon)’. I said we are on our way. But when we reached Lakhimpur Kheri, he had died,” said Lovepreet’s father Satnam Singh, choking up.
Lovepreet Singh and three more farmers were among the eight killed in the violence during a protest against Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s visit. Four farmers were run over by a car in the minister’s convoy. Later, there were clashes and cars were burnt at the spot.
Farmers allege that car was being driven by the minister’s son, Ashish Mishra. The UP police have filed a case against him.
Weeping next to his body in a glass casket, his family today refused to cremate him until they were given the autopsy report and a copy of the FIR against Ashish Mishra. A large number of relatives and neighbours sat next to the body, waiting.
“My son was mercilessly crushed…They have not taken any action against the person responsible. The administration’s response has been weak,” said Mr Singh.
Lovepreet’s two sisters mourned their youngest brother, his body in a glass casket since Sunday. He had left home saying he was heading out for a good cause. “My son told us he is going for the farmers’ protest. He said black flags will be shown…They were brutally crushed by cars from the back. The cars tried to remove the protesters…Ajay-ji’s (Union Minister Ajay Mishra) son was probably behind the wheel.”
After hours of negotiation between farmers and the police, Lovepreet’s cremation took place at 3 pm. His body was taken out of the glass case to a field about 100 metres away, where a funeral pyre had been readied.
During the short walk from their home to the pyre, Lovepreet’s mother fainted several times, beside herself with grief. His father, composed so far and talking to journalists about his son’s last phone call, broke down in front of the pyre and tried to embrace his son one last time.
Amid rising anger over the incident, the minister and his son have both denied being present at the Lakhimpur Kheri site.
A viral video, apparently of the incident, has surfaced and has been tweeted by BJP MP Varun Gandhi and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, among others.
The video apparently shows the horrifying moment when an SUV drove into a group of protesters from behind and crushed many of them.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the post-mortem report of all eight bodies has revealed the cause of death as injuries, shock and brain haemorrhage.
Families have demanded action based on the videos that have emerged after the incident.
The body of one of the farmers, who allegedly died of a gunshot wound, will be sent for a second post mortem as part of a truce that facilitated the cremations.