Deadlock over Maduri airstrip expansion: Azamgarh’s BJP MP Nirahua alleged of inciting ‘Lakhimpur Kheri’ like violence

The protest over the proposed expansion of Maduri airstrip in Azamgarh, a highly-ambitious project of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, is getting with each passing day.

While the farmer’s leaders and activists like Medha Patekar and Rakesh Tikait have already expressed their support to the farmers, demanding against the proposed acquisition of land for the expansion of the dysfunctional Azamgarh airport under the UDAN scheme.

“Break the knees or kill them”

Meanwhile, Azamgarh MP Nirahua has triggered massive outrage among the farmers because of his inflammatory statement on November 19, during a public gathering in the Mubarakpur area.

“Azamgarh remains backwards for over the year because these people stand against the development. If the district has to progress, such a trend must first be stopped. Those who are not understanding the situation and going out of control either must be sent to jail, or break their knees or kill them,” said Nirahua.

“The lone reason Azamgarh remained backwards is its people here, who are out of hand. If the district has to progress, such a trend must first be stopped. Those who are out of control, either send them to jail, break their knees or kill them,” Bhojpuri actor turned politician added.

“Uncanny similarity with Lakhimpur Kheri violence”

However, Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a coalition of over forty Indian farmers’ unions to coordinate satyagraha against the three farm acts initiated in September of the same year, condemned Nirahua’s statement and demanded an immediate apology from the parliamentarian.

The SKM and ‘Makan Bachao Khet Bachao Sanyukta Morcha’ group have made a stern allegation on the BJP MP for inciting violence in Azamgarh, similar to Lakhimpur Kheri violence, earlier this year.

“Similar statement was made by Ajay Mishra Teni, Union Minister of State for Home, in Lakhimpur Kheri wherein he spoke about ‘teaching a lesson to farmers protesting against the three farm laws. Ajay Mishra’s statement was followed by his son’s convoy mowing down four farmers and a journalist. Nirahua’s statement is similar, and in such a situation, strict action should be taken against the MP,” Rajeev Yadav, SKM member, told NewsClick.

However, Nirahua soon took a u-turn and said that nobody should take violate the law. “If the problem is not resolved, then let us know, and we will fix it, but one should not take the law into his hands,” a statement from Nirahua came; villagers landed at a police station demanding action against him.

Backing from social and farmers activitists

Apart from activists like Rakesh Tikait, Medha Patkar, Arundhati Dhuru, and Sandeep Pandey supported the agitation and visited the protestor.

Yadav further informed that the government should either roll back the expansion plan or come up with a concrete agenda, or the protest would continue irrespective of dialogue.

The district administration is completely wrong if they think the protest will last a few months. We will create history as our farmers did, and the government had no choice but to repeal the farm laws,” Ramayan Yadav, president of the ‘Makan Bachai Khet Bachao Sanyukta Morcha’, told NewsClick.

Meanwhile, the protest also got the backing of the Samajwadi Party as the party’s district president Hawaldar Yadav claimed that SP is extending its backing to the farmers of the nine villages affected by the plan to expand the Maduri airstrip.

Maduri airstrip expansion

Earlier this year, the Airport Authorities of India signed an operation and management agreement for the upgradation and expansion of five airports owned by the Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh for 30 years. These five airports are Aligarh, Azamgarh, Chitrakoot, Muirpur and Shravasti.

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