Terming the Lakhimpur Kheri violence as “absolutely condemnable”, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said similar incidents happen in other parts of India too, but they should be raised when they happened, not when they happened. Let it be known, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in government in a state, some people find it favorable to raise them. Sitharaman, who is on an official visit to the US, made the remarks in response to a question asked during a conversation at Harvard Kennedy School about the deaths of four farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri and the arrest of Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra.
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He was asked why nothing was said on this by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers and why “defensive response” is always given whenever someone asks about such things. To this he said, “No, it is not like that at all….It is good that you raised such an incident which is completely condemnable and every one of us is saying this. Similar incidents happening elsewhere are a cause of concern for me.”
Sitharaman said, “Such cases in India are happening equally in many different parts of the country. I want you and Dr. Amartya Sen and many others who know India to raise this every time such an incident happens. This type of incident should not be raised only when it is favorable for us to raise them because it happened in a state where BJP is in power, in which the son of one of my cabinet colleague is probably in trouble. Said that a full investigation will be done to find out who is behind this incident.
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“And this is not about defending my party or my prime minister. It is about defending India. I will talk for India, I will talk about justice for the poor. I will not be ridiculed and if ridiculed, I will stand up in my defense and say ‘Sorry, let’s talk facts’. This is my answer for you.”
Ashish Mishra has been accused of traveling in one of the vehicles that crushed four farmers protesting the visit of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on October 3. Following these allegations, Ashish’s name was registered in the FIR. Responding to a question on farmers’ protests, Sitharaman said the three Agriculture Acts brought in by the government were discussed by various parliamentary committees over a decade. He said that after the BJP came to power in 2014, these three laws have been discussed separately by the state governments by the Center and every stakeholder was consulted.