Lakhimpur Kheri violence: SC questions Uttar Pradesh govt's actions

Supreme Court
Dissatisfied with the steps taken by Uttar Pradesh government in the “brutal” murder of eight persons including four farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri, the Supreme Court Friday questioned non-arrest of accused, directed preservation of evidence and mulled transferring probe to another agency, saying “proof of the pudding is in the eating”.


Without mincing words, a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said, “the law must take its course against all accused” and “the government has to take all remedial steps in this regard to inspire confidence” in the investigation of “brutal murder of eight persons”. The UP government will have “to make another pudding and make it palatable”, senior lawyer Harish Salve, appearing for the state, said, adding that whatever is done so far is not satisfactory.


He assured the bench that “between today and tomorrow whatever is the shortfall (in the probe) will be filled up because the message has gone”.


‘My son is innocent’


The Uttar Pradesh Police issued a fresh notice to Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra asking him to appear before it by 11 am on Saturday in connection with the violence, after he missed his 10 am deadline on Friday.


Hours later, the minister told reporters his son was not well and that “he will appear before the police tomorrow and give his statement and evidence as he is innocent”.


The latest notice, pasted outside Ajay Mishra's house Friday afternoon, warned that legal action will be initiated against Ashish Mishra if he fails to appear before the investigators on Saturday.


Deputy Inspector General (Headquarters) Upendra Agarwal who is heading the team probing Sunday's incident waited for him at the police lines but he didn't show up, after which the fresh notice was issued.


As Ashish Mishra did not show up, reports emerged that he may have fled to Nepal.


Asked about it, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Friday said, “If this is true, the Centre should intervene and get the accused arrested from Nepal.” In a statement issued here, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha said, “...there is no trace of him (Ashish Mishra). News reports indicate that he is changing locations and is absconding, with several Uttar Pradesh Police teams searching for him.” The morcha expressed its “serious concern and shock” at Mishra not yet being arrested.


Talking to reporters at the Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport in Lucknow, the Union minister of state for home said, “We have full faith in law. My son is innocent. He got a notice on Thursday but he said he was not well. He will appear before the police tomorrow and give his statement and evidence as he is innocent.” On the Opposition's relentless attack on him and demand for his resignation, the minister said, “Vipaksh to kuch bhi mangta hai (Opposition can demand anything).” “This is a BJP government which works in an unbiased manner. Action will be taken against those found guilty,” he said.


On allegations that attempts are being made to save Ashish Mishra, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, “There is no such video. We have issued numbers, and if anyone has evidence, they can upload it. All will be crystal clear. There will be no injustice with anyone. No one will be allowed to take the law in his hand but no action will be taken under any pressure.” “We will not arrest anyone on allegations. But yes, if someone is guilty, he will also not be spared irrespective of who he is,” he said.


After two men were arrested on Thursday, the police pasted a notice outside Ajay Mishra's house asking him to appear before it at 10 am on Friday.


The arrested men were identified as Luvkush of Banbirpur village and Ashish Pandey of Nighasan tehsil, two of the seven people mentioned in an FIR lodged by the police in connection with the violence.


A nine-member team headed by DIG Upendra Agarwal has been formed to investigate the FIR lodged against the minister's son and others.


Four of the eight people who died on Sunday were farmers, allegedly knocked down by vehicles carrying BJP workers. Angry farmers then allegedly lynched some people in the vehicles.


The other dead included two BJP workers and their driver.


Farmers claimed that Ashish Mishra was in one of the vehicles, an allegation denied by him and his father who say they can produce evidence to prove he was at an event at that time.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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