On my way back from Lakhimpur Kheri, one question constantly haunted me: Should we see the dead divided into our own and the other’s groves? Before my eyes was the image of Shubham Mishra’s one year old daughter playing in the courtyard of the house, the stoned face of Shubham’s wife. The questions his father asked me were echoing in my ears.
I had gone to the town of Tikunia in Lakhimpur Kheri to attend the ‘Alim Ardas’ of four farmers and a journalist. This was the place where the barbaric incident of crushing the protesting farmers took place. Perhaps because of my childhood sanskars, my mind was more engaged in Ardas than in the eloquent speeches of the tribute meeting. From the experience of visiting the victims of different types of tragedies over the years, we have learned that if you want to know and understand the sorrows, then first look at the women. The face of the woman bears testimony to the truth of the tragedy.
After the last Ardas, the women of the families of the martyr farmers got down from the stage and started going quietly. In response to my namaste, some simply looked with empty eyes, some folded their hands in response. What can you say and expect from the mother whose 19-year-old Lal was crushed to death under a car on such an occasion?
It is one thing to read something about such a horrific incident or watch a video of such an incident, and it is a completely different thing to face such an incident in real life. It was as if someone had taken life out of the body of the mother, sister, daughter of the martyr farmers in a week. There was a dark shadow on the withered face. Lost in the midst of religious rituals, the family of journalist Raman Kashyap seemed somewhat frightened by that little unknown of the Sikh-sangat.
That disgraceful video was playing in the bottom of my mind over and over again. Time and again there was resentment against the dreaded, inebriated power which makes a man so savage that it crushes another man in such a way. Once again the resolve of mine and all the colleagues present there became stronger that the movement on this issue should be continued till the dismissal of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, the mastermind of this crime and his arrest.
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sadness on the other side
On leaving from Tikunia, a voice came from inside that the journey to Lakhimpur is still incomplete. For the past one week, I was questioned several times over the death of a driver and two Bharatiya Janata Party workers in this incident. I have always said that although the death caused by willful murder and retaliation cannot be equated, yet the death of anyone, it is always a matter of mourning. I am also sad about his death.
Shaheed Kisan went to the house of BJP worker Shubham Mishra on his way back from the tribute meeting. The family did not get angry with us. Just ask the question with a sad heart: are we not farmers? What was wrong with our son? Why did your partner say an action reaction thing?
His questions are ringing in his ears! pic.twitter.com/q0sYAT8gV6
— Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) October 12, 2021
That’s why the conscience hurt. If I am honest about what I say, then I should also feel sorry for the families of the victims on that side of the line. Even so, the demand of humanity is to IG regret over death. There was an initial apprehension in the minds of my colleagues of the Jai Kisan Andolan that there might be a situation of dispute, quarrel or even scuffle. But finally we reached the house of BJP worker (booth in-charge) Shubham Mishra located in the heart of Lakhimpur city.
‘Are you from the family of the deceased?’ I asked the person sitting on the chair with some people outside the house who had recognized me and greeted me. ‘Yes, I am Shubham’s father’, replied the man younger than me. Standing in utter silence, with folded hands I said: ‘It’s very sad’! Told that I am coming from the last ardas of the martyr farmers.
Shubham Mishra’s father had an IGion of anguish, not anger, ‘You are the first person (I understand, saying that coming from the farmers’ side) who has come to meet us. All these big leaders came to Lakhimpur and then left. No one came to meet us. Aren’t we farmers? Can I tell you the Khasra Khatauni number? The Sarpanch of my village is a Sardar. Are we his enemy? What was my son’s crime? Ask someone in the city and if you hear a word against my son, then tell me?’
After this Shubham’s father turned to me: ‘I expected something better from you. That day Rakesh Tikait ji said that the matter was of action-reaction. Then you were sitting next to him. If you wanted, you could have corrected what he said. I said in response – I had given the explanation there. But the media had not conveyed that point of mine to them.
For some quarter of an hour, Shubham’s father kept telling how his son was innocent and how the protesting farmers who came from outside were responsible for the whole incident. He was expected to say so. He took out from his pocket the form of a police complaint in which my friend Tejinder Singh Virk was blamed for the lynching incident (Tejinder Singh Virk himself was seriously injured before the attack on Shubham, in an infirmary state) . Obviously, I could not agree with most of what he said about the facts of the incident. But arguing with the bereaved father would not only be useless but also heartless. This was not an occasion for argument, but for participating in sorrow.
All I said was – it doesn’t matter whether he was a farmer or not. What matters to me is that he was a human. Such a death cannot be called right for any human being.
At the moment we do not know whether Shubham and everyone else in those vehicles were involved in the conspiracy or not. On the basis of the information available so far, all we know is that Shubham was neither driving the cart on the protesting farmers nor his name has come up among those who fired. At first glance, it seems that the real culprits got confused by carrying out the crime and people like Shubham got trapped behind to face the anger of the mob. The whole truth will come out through investigation, but it seems that he accidentally succumbed to reprisal. Signs of the human cost of that misadventure were visible inside his house. I saw four generations of women coping with the trauma of Shubham’s death and in shock – Shubham’s distraught grandmother, a traumatized mother, his depressed wife and Shubham’s one-year-old daughter.
And: From Hathras to Lakhimpur, the opposition is not able to decide the agenda only because of the mistakes of the BJP
shared sorrow and painbe sorry
Minister Ajay Mishra and his son Ashish are the perpetrators of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre – Has my thinking changed after my visit to Lakhimpur? No, my thinking remains the same. There is anger in my mind about the shamelessness with which the Uttar Pradesh government and the central government have covered this incident, has that anger calmed down after the Lakhimpur visit? No, not at all.
Have some questions and concerns arise in my mind after the journey that for whom should we mourn and what should be the attitude in such a situation? Maybe yes. I indicated this in one of my tweets made soon after the meeting. The tweet has been praised and vilified. Words have been said in appreciation of the tweet, even for objections, surprises have been IGed and doubts have also been IGed. ‘Which side are you standing on?’ Some people have even said that I have insulted the martyr farmers. I don’t understand how the martyrdom of our comrades gets splashed by being involved in someone’s misery.
Our politics and movements are the victims of a deep depression. I remember, I had gone to Jhajjar in Haryana after the arson and massacre during the Jat reservation of 2016. One was our own team which reached the door of the victims of this violence in both the places: we went to Saini Mohalla where there was violence from the side of the agitators and also went to Sir Chhotu Ram Dharamsala where his idol was vandalized by the protestors. . On that day, two Haryana ministers came and went among the victims of violence according to their caste, only those people who belonged to their caste.
Partisanship is at the root of our ideologies. The best example of this is the controversy over citizenship in Assam. Intellectuals of our liberal-secular Jamaat describe immigrant Bengalis (mostly Muslims) as victims. It is okay for them to do so. But in doing so they fail to see that the Ahomia people (mostly Hindus) also have deep concerns about their culture and material condition. These Ahomia people feel that they have been put aside on their own land. Similarly, the left-wing intellectuals considered the landless laborers as the most deprived section of rural India. This is also fine. But, because of doing so, they could not see that the whole of agriculture was a victim of systemic exploitation, including the landowner farmers. Left-wing intellectuals once called the landlord farmers ‘kulaks’ (landlords) and called them class-enemies. One victim is pitted against another victim.
Victims on our side, victims on their side. Victims of real and victims of lies. Most of this goes on in our public life, we choose the victims according to our choice or are engaged in measuring the truth and lies among the victims. This is a profound disease of our public life.
There are obviously advantages to choosing your favorite victim. Doing this makes life easier. The easiest tactic is to get biased for instincts. It doesn’t take much brain-exploitation to do this. Standing on one side and looking at it, we get the ready-made truth in our hands. By doing this, there is no scope for getting trapped in any moral conflict. We can clearly see the right and wrong and white-black of an incident.
Another great advantage is that due to the clear identification of the enemy, the direction of politics remains clear that one has to gallop on this or that path. You craft your message in very clear words, garner energy and mobilize people. Once the leader has chosen a side, then there is no need for the followers to run their hearts and minds.
But the trouble is that such an incomplete and partisan attitude leads to narrow politics. The politics of narrow circles works well for some time but in the end it leads us to great difficulties. As soon as you become proficient in the art of pushing aside unwanted and uncomfortable truths, someone else goes two steps ahead of you in this matter – he starts pushing the whole truth and moving forward. Once you’ve put on your white-and-ink morality glasses, your white-and-ink boxes can be changed at any time – what you see can be said to be white, what you see as white can be said to be dark. Can be called. As soon as you make the identity of the enemy the basis of your politics, someone else also comes who identifies the new enemies. On this foundation today BJP and Sangh Parivar have built an empire of lies across the country.
Be it politics or agitation, what path should we take in our public life that has room for inconvenient truth, moral complexities and minimal human sensibility? I have returned from Lakhimpur Kheri with the same question.
(The author is a member of Swaraj India and co-founder of Jai Kisan Andolan. Views IGed are personal)
(Click here to read this article in English)
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