The historic Gurdwara Kodiwala Ghat in Nighasan tehsil of district Lakhimpur Kheri is a major pilgrimage centre for the Sikhs settled here in the Terai region in the foothills of the Himalayas. They believe it was built by their first guru, Nanak Dev. Special recitations and kirtans are organised here on the occasion of the new moon every month, with thousands of Sikh devotees coming in from the surrounding districts.
The new moon on October 6, though, was a sombre affair. The community was still in shock over the events from three days back (October 3) when a confrontation between farmers and a convoy of Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’, led to the death of eight people, four of them farmers run over by Ashish’s vehicle. The incident happened just 3 km from the gurdwara, on the Tikunia-Belraya road.
The farmers had been protesting against the Centre’s new agricultural laws and the controversial remarks of Ajay Mishra who had, the previous week, said at a public function that he would “sort them out (sudhaar doonga)” if they didn’t fall in line. The protesting farmers had gathered on October 3 at the helipad outside Tikunia town to wait for deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya, who was expected to land there before travelling to Banveerpur, Ajay Mishra’s village, for a programme. Maurya cancelled the visit fearing the protests, but the minister’s son Ashish and his cohorts, who had gone to receive the deputy CM, later ran into the protesters. According to eyewitnesses, Ashish’s car drove into the farmers who were protesting peacefully on the road. The angry farmers then ransacked the vehicles in the convoy and set them on fire. News of the horrifying incident in Tikunia town, about 100 km from Lakhimpur Kheri, spread like wildfire. Soon, the countryside was up in arms.
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