Lakhimpur tragedy heart-wrenching: Baghel

Raipur, Oct 07 (PTI): Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Thursday hit back at the opposition BJP for criticising him over his announcement of giving a financial assistance to the victims of violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri, and said this “heart-wrenching” tragedy involving farmers should not be compared to any other incident.
He also sought to know why Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not spoken about the incident so far.
Baghel, who has been made senior observer by the Congress for the UP Assembly polls scheduled next year, had on Wednesday announced in Lucknow financial assistance of Rs 50 lakh each to families of four farmers and a journalist killed in the incident of violence in Lakhimpur Kheri. A total of eight persons were killed in the incident.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi also made a similar announcement.
The chief ministers of the two Congress-ruled states, along with party leader Rahul Gandhi, visited Lakhimpur Kheri on Wednesday. Chhattisgarh’s BJP unit has targeted Baghel over his announcement and said it was an instance of “cheap politics” played by him. “The Lakhimpur tragedy was a heart-wrenching incident. The way the son of a Union Minister of State (Ajay Kumar Mishra) allegedly crushed the farmers there, it reflects their (BJP’s) fascist mentality. This incident cannot be linked with other incidents,” he said in a press conference here. He was responding to a question about the BJP’s allegations that he had no concern for the families of farmers who committed suicide and the tribals killed in the Silger firing incident (in Chhattisgarh).
In May this year, three persons were killed in a crossfire between the security forces and Naxals, when local tribals were staging a protest in front of a newly-set up police camp at Silger in Sukma district. While the police later identified the three deceased as members of frontal outfits of the outlawed CPI (Maoist), the villagers, who had staged the protest, had claimed that security forces unilaterally fired upon the protesters and killed those who were not Naxals.
Hitting out at the saffron party, Baghel said, “Do (Leader of Opposition) Dharamlal Kaushik and (former chief minister) Raman Singh condemn the Lakhimpur incident? Will they demand dismissal of the union minister (referring to Ajay Kumar Mishra) and the arrest of his son who allegedly crushed farmers?”
“They talk of the Silger incident. When did Raman Singh and his party leader go to meet (the affected people) after Naxal incident during their 15-year rule. After the Silger incident, our party MLAs and leaders went and met people there. Has Raman Singh ji spoken to the affected families in Silger?…I have spoken to them virtually and over phone. I called them here and asked them what they wanted. They said they will not take compensation,” he said.
The CM said that he was not describing any incident as small, but the Lakhimpur violence should not be compared to other incidents.
Baghel also asked why PM Modi has not given any statement in connection with the Lakhimpur incident so far.
“When I was sitting on a ‘dharna’ at Lucknow airport (on Tuesday), the PM was observing Amrit Mahotsav there, but he did not speak a single word over ‘annadata’ and that incident. Why is he silent?” he asked.
When asked about the curfew imposed in Kawardha town of the state following an incident of communal violence on Tuesday, Baghel said stern action will be taken against those who try to encourage such an incident.
“Chhattisgarh is a peace-loving state and people belonging to different communities live here together in harmony. Neither the people of the state nor the government will tolerate such things. Stern action will be taken against those who try to encourage such an incident,” he said, adding that he would speak to the media in detail on the Kawardha violence later.
Baghel was speaking to reporters ahead of the inauguration of beautification and renovation of Mata Kaushalya temple in Chandkhuri village of Raipur district on Thursday evening as a part of state government’s ambitious Ram Van Gaman tourism circuit.
Meanwhile, in an apparent jibe at the BJP, Baghel said some people remember Lord Ram “only for votes”.

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