Will discipline you fellows in 2 min: Minister before Lakhimpur flare-up
Mishra’s remarks came after farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on Thursday (August 18) began a three-day protest, demanding the sacking of him over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. File photo: Twitter/ANI

Will discipline you fellows in 2 min: Minister before Lakhimpur flare-up

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A purported video of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra, in which he is heard warning agitating farmers that he would ‘discipline them in two minutes, appears to have been the trigger that angered farmers before Sunday’s violence in Lakhimpur Kheri.

“Face me, it will take just two minutes to discipline you fellows,” the two-time BJP MP from Kheri is heard allegedly saying in the video. “I am not only a minister or an MP and MLA… People who know me even before I became a Parliamentarian, know that I never run away from taking a challenge. The day I accept the challenge, you all have to leave not only Palia (a place) but Lakhimpur itself,” he is heard saying in the video.

According to reports, Mishra’s speech came against the backdrop of some farmers showing him black flags in Palia locality in his Kheri Parliamentary constituency, where he had gone to address a public meeting late last month.

Since then, farmers have been up in arms against Mishra, and on Sunday, while protesting against the visit of UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya in Mishra’s native village Banbirpur, violence erupted, resulting in nine deaths.

Also read: 9 dead, 14 booked in Lakhimpur Kheri violence; minister denies presence

Local farmer leader Gurmit Singh told a TV channel that on September 25, members of Krantikari Kisan Union and Bhartiya Kisan Union had shown Mishra black flags, following which the minister had allegedly threatened to deal with them.

Opposition leaders have pointed to this speech of Mishra’s to allege that the killing of the farmers was deliberate.

Singh said that upon coming to know about Maurya’s programme, the farmers sat on a dharna peacefully near the helipad, where he was scheduled to arrive. When the farmers came to know that Maurya was coming by road, the farmers stood in protest at a three km stretch on his travel route.

Singh alleged that Mishra’s son and his supporters “trampled farmers to death under the wheels of their SUVs”.

Farmer leaders had claimed that the minister’s son Ashish Mishra was in one of the cars which allegedly knocked down some protesters who were opposing the deputy CM’s visit.

However, Ajay Mishra said that he and his son were not present at the spot as alleged by some farmer leaders, and he has photo and video evidence to prove it.

He later said that their convoy had been diverted through another route in view of the protests, which he said was happening at least 4km from the site of the event with Maurya.

Mishra had also claimed that extremist organisations like the Babbar Khalsa have infiltrated the farmers protest, and that the mob had beaten up BJP supporters with sticks and swords and killed them.

Also read: 2 SUVs run over protesting farmers, violence erupts in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri

An FIR has been registered against Ashish Mishra and others in connection with the incident.

Some criminal cases including murder were lodged against 61-year-old Ajay Mishra in the past, but he was cleared by the court in the cases related to murders.

Starting his political innings as a panchayat member, Ajay Mishra was elected as a BJP MLA from Vidhasan Assembly seat in Lakhimpur Kheri district, in 2012. The party nominated him for the 2014 Lok Sabha poll from Kheri seat which he won then and again in 2019.

Mishra was inducted in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet in July and given a key post as Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA, which is headed by Amit Shah.

The saffron party has projected him as a prominent Brahmin leader and organised several public meetings to drum up support in the upcoming state election.

(With inputs from agencies)

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