“BJP is now trying to change the narrative. The police are trying to pressure me to file a complaint that my brother was beaten up but this is not what happened,” said Pawan Kashyap, brother of Raman Kashyap, the journalist who died on October 3 during the violence at Lakhimpur Kheri.
On October 3, Raman, a journalist with Sadhna News, headed to Tikunia to cover the farmers’ protest. At around 3.30 pm, three vehicles, one of which was being driven by Ashish Mishra, son of union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra, rammed into the protesters.
At 3 am the next day, Raman’s father was called to identify his son’s dead body at a mortuary in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Seven others died in the violence that day: four farmers, two BJP workers and the driver of one of the vehicles. So far, two FIRs have been filed. The first was filed by the farmers against Ashish Mishra and 13 others. The charges levied against them include murder and rioting
The second FIR was filed by Sumit Jaiswal, a BJP worker who was a passenger in one of the three vehicles on October 3. This FIR was filed against unidentified persons, referring to the protesters, for rioting, causing death by negligence, and murder.
Initially, Raman’s family wanted to file a separate FIR.
“In our complaint, we have written that three vehicles with Ashish Mishra’s workers rammed into the crowd and killed my brother,” said Pawan, referring to a complaint filed by the family a day after the incident. “We want the owners of these vehicles to be investigated.”
But after a discussion with their lawyer, the family decided to include Raman’s name in the FIR filed by the farmers directly against Ashish Mishra.
“It was a matter of either naming Ashish or not,” Pawan said, “and we felt that since the sequence of events is the same, we might as well include his name in the FIR filed by the farmers.”
It’s been two days since they filed a complaint, but Raman’s family has still not received a copy of the FIR or his postmortem report.
Pawan alleged that on October 5, when he visited the Tikunia police station to demand a copy of the FIR, station house officer Balendra Gautam began pressuring him to change his brother's name from the FIR filed by the farmers to the FIR filed by the BJP workers.
“He kept saying my brother was beaten up with sticks and lathis but that’s not true,” Pawan said. “I saw my brother’s body. There were marks of being dragged on the road by a vehicle. His skin had gravel and there was blood.”
He added, “Also, if he was beaten up, then it has to be shown in the postmortem report. We don’t believe he was. Everyone else is claiming he was. How? We saw the body, not them. Also, all other victims’ families got their autopsy report. Only we haven’t. Why?”
But why did the police pressure Pawan to switch Raman’s name to the FIR filed by BJP workers?
“Members of the BJP want to include my brother’s name in their FIR to show that an equal number of deaths happened on both sides,” he said. “Four farmers and four BJP workers will make the cross case equal and balanced. They want to use my brother for this balancing act.”
It has been three days since the violence. Raman’s family now fears that the journalist is being used as a pawn in the political gamble taking place after the violence between farmers and BJP workers.
Balendra Gautam, the station house officer at Tikunia police station, confirmed to Newslaundry that the FIR copy and postmortem report have still not been given to the family. “It will be given today evening,” he said. “The autopsy was not conducted in this area so the travel time is causing delay.”
But in which FIR will Raman’s name be included? Gautam said, “The FIR filed by farmers. That’s what the family wants.”
Regarding the family’s allegation about being pressured to include Raman’s name in the BJP’s FIR, Gautam said, “There’s no pressure. This is wrong information.”
Nevertheless, Raman’s family believes otherwise.
“My brother is not a farmer,” said Pawan. “He is not a BJP worker. He is a journalist. Now they want his dead body to pick sides for their political convenience.”