Scarred bodies and minds: All that remains of the Lakhimpur violence

Lakhimpur Kheri (UP, India), October 07 (KMS):  An injured Parabjeet Singh says his friend Luvpreet Singh was crushed by a vehicle, while the deceased’s family is distraught. The situation is similar in the homes of two other victims, Raman Kashyap and Nachtar Singh

Sugarcane, banana and rice farms compete with each other as you take the road from Majgai to village Chokra Farm in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district. 20-year-old Luvpreet Singh and his friend Parabjeet Singh had grown up in farms like these.

The duo had gone to attend the farmer protest at Tikunia on Sunday. Luvpreet allegedly got crushed under a vehicle when violence broke out while Parabjeet took injuries on his back and head. CNN-News18 caught up with him at a petrol station in Nighasan as his distraught father drove him to the Lakhimpur district hospital. “For the past three days, our entire focus was on Luvpreet and his family. I thought my son would be fine after first aid, but he is having difficulty breathing,” Swarn Singh, Parabjeet’s father, said.

Parabjeet, lying flat on the front seat of the Maruti car, recounted the day. “I didn’t want to go. But Luvpreet’s mama called us. He didn’t have a bike so I agreed to go along. Suddenly as we were returning, cars came and hit us…Luvpreet came under the vehicle…I fell to the side and lost consciousness. I don’t know who drove the car,” Parabjeet told Indian media.

Three hours later, the Lakhimpur district hospital diagnosed him with a fractured rib, fractured hip bone and spinal injuries.

Luvpreet and Parabjeet’s village, Chokta Farm, came back into focus as the Gandhi siblings visited after high political drama with the administration in Lucknow and Sitapur. Satvinder Kaur, Luvpreet’s mother, was receiving saline drip, while his two sisters struggled to keep their composure.

Similar scenes played out at the villages of journalist Raman Kashyap and farmer Nachtar Singh, both of whom died in the violence. Police and paramilitary personnel kept watch as life limped back to normalcy.

At ground zero in Tikunia, the used and thrown paper plates and glasses at the Maharaja Agrasen Inter College ground and the skeletal remains of the burnt-down Thar and Fortuner vehicles are the only reminders of the horrifying Sunday. The houses nearby are desolate. Taranjit Kaur sits alone on a charpoy near the charred Fortuner. Try asking her if she saw what happened, and Taranjit shakes her head. “There’s no one at home, I am all alone, and I was down with fever,” she said. In the neighbouring houses too only the cattle and poultry can be spotted.

A few young boys sit near the local gurdwara, tired of recounting the Sunday mayhem. An Amavasya Mela that is arranged every year on new moon day at this time was called off on Wednesday as the neighborhood mourned the dead.