In a move bound to create political ripples in poll bound states, protesting farmers have decided to carry out ‘asthi kalash yatras’ carrying remains of the Lakhimpur Kheri martyrs through different states to reach out to the masses.

This was announced on Tuesday as people from various walks of life in India came out to support the country’s agitating farmers in events held across the country to pay respect to the four farmers and a journalist killed in Lakhimpur Kheri last Sunday. They were allegedly mowed down by the convoy of union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni and his son Ashish Mishra. Three others were also killed in the violence that followed the alleged hit-and-run and shooting at the spot.

Tuesday saw prayer meetings and candle light marches not only in Lakhimpur Kheri where the ‘bhog’ (a post death ritual) was organized by Samyukta Kisan Morcha but in small towns and villages in various states – reports and photos were received of events in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana etc.

Attempts to communalise the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and the farmers’ movement have been gathering steam over the last few days. There is a move to make it a Hindu-Sikh issue with right wing propagandists trying to appropriate the death of journalist Raman Kashyap in the violence.

The farmers paid the same respects to Kashyap as their four brethren who were killed and treated all five as ‘shaheeds’ (martyrs) of Lakhimpur Kheri.

There has also been an attempt by the right wing to convey that by organizing events on Hindu festivals farmers are hurting the sentiments of Hindus. This is being circulated after the farmers decided to burn the effigies of government ministers on Dussehra.

The SKM has stated, “On October 15 to uphold the spirit of Dussehra, effigies of anti-farmer BJP leaders Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Ajay Mishra, Narendra Singh Tomar, Yogi Adityanath, Manohar Lal Khattar and others will be burnt by farmers all over the country.”

To further counter the communal propaganda, the farmers underlined that Dussehra is a festival of truth and goodness triumphing over evil. “The action call given by SKM will reflect this very spirit of Dussehra and SKM has no intention to come in the way of other festivities of the day. The farmers' movement in fact has embraced the values in all religions and had built unity and bonding amongst farmers across faiths. The actions of SKM are against the government and BJP,” the SKM stated.

“The message that went out from the events held on Tuesday was that the cruelty of the ruling dispensation stands exposed. The government has started a war against its farmers. The Lakhimpur Kheri mowing down of farmers and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar giving a controversial statement that he later withdrew about unleashing violence against the agitating farmers points to a planned strategy. All this points to the constitution being violated with impunity,” said Sumit Singh, an All India Kisan Sabha leader from Haryana.

Singh further told this reporter, “Through the Asthi Kalash Yatra of Lakhimpur Kheri martyrs we will reach out to the masses and expose the designs of the BJP. We will take this yatra to different villages, toll plazas and protest sites. We will also approach the voters of Ellenabad assembly constituency through this yatra and call for ‘zero vote to BJP’ as vote is the most powerful tool with the masses to reply to the cruelty unleashed by the BJP governments against them.”

An assembly bypoll is scheduled in Ellenabad, Haryana on October 30.

According to Rajinder Singh of the Kirti Kisan Union in Punjab, “The programmes on Tuesday were the people’s response to the fascist offensive being faced by them. The people across the country and from various walks of life crossed the communal lines being drawn to divide them. The day will go down as a memorable one in the history of resistance in this country.”

Tikunia at Lakhimpur Kheri saw thousands coming from various states to join the last rites of the ‘martyrs’.

The SKM stated, “The whole country has by now watched the desperate murderous attempts of BJP to crush a powerful peaceful democratic movement. However, we will not allow the movement to be derailed in any way, and we have only grown stronger.”

It said that it would not allow the sacrifice of the martyrs of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre, and of more than 630 others in the movement so far, go in vain.

From the prayer meeting in Tikunia for Nacchattar Singh, Lovepreet Singh, Gurvinder Singh, Daljeet Singh and Raman Kashyap, the SKM announced its resolve to secure justice in this massacre.

“It is a shame to the nation that the Modi government continues with Ajay Mishra as a minister, even though there is a solid case against him for arresting and sacking him,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Lokneeti Satyagraha Kisan Jan Jagran Padayatra reached Ballia in Uttar Pradesh on its eleventh day.

The farmers also paid respect to socialist leader Dr Ram Manohar Lohia on his 54th death anniversary, remembering his famous lines “Jab sadke sooni hoti hain to sansad awara ho jati hai” (When roads are empty, the Parliament goes astray).

The farmers also paid homage to the five soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country in an encounter in Jammu & Kashmir – Jaswinder Singh, Saraj Singh, Gajjan Singh, Mandeep Singh and Vaisakh HK.

They noted with grief and pride that Sepoy Gajjan Singh, who was married only four months ago, had carried a farmer union flag proudly in his wedding procession.

They reiterated that kisans and jawans, farmers and soldiers are in this struggle together to protect the country.