Lakhimpur Kheri violence: Union Minister’s son Ashish Mishra arrested after 12 hours of questioning : The Tribune India


Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

Lakhimpur Kheri, October 9

Prime accused in the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri violence Ashish Mishra, the son of Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra, joined police investigation on Saturday morning, a day after the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction over the steps taken by the state government in the case. He was later arrested after 12 hours of questioning.

Opinions page: Medieval barbarism

Ajay Mishra with his supporters at his office in Lakhimpur Kheri.

DIG Upendra Agarwal, head of the SIT formed to probe the case, said, “We are taking him in custody on grounds of non-cooperation and evasive replies.”

Also read: Dismiss Union Minister Ajay Mishra: Samyukt Kisan Morcha

Eight persons, four of them farmers, lost their lives in the violence. Just as Ashish appeared before the Uttar Pradesh SIT, his father and Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra reached his Lakhimpur Kheri office. Within minutes, hundreds of BJP workers from the parliamentary segment which Ajay Mishra represents, began arriving at his office in a show of solidarity with Ashish.

A section of the Union Minister’s supporters raised slogans in favour of his son, claiming a “conspiracy against Ashish” who, they said, was preparing to contest the UP elections from Nighasan in the Kheri Lok Sabha segment. They also claimed that Ashish was not present at the site of the deaths — Tikonia-Banbirpur road — on October 3, the day three SUVs allegedly mowed down protesting farmers.

The FIR against Ashish Mishra, however, charges him with grave offences, including murder and firing. It says he was on the left seat of Thar Mahindra, the first in the convoy of three vehicles to hit a group of farmers returning from a protest site, and had escaped after firing shots into the air. The vehicle was later torched by angry protesters.

“We now look forward to the sacking of Ajay Mishra,” said Satnam Singh, father of deceased farmer Lovpreet Singh. Pawan Kashyap, the brother of deceased Raman Kashyap, demanded an impartial probe. In Lakhimpur Kheri town, where the Police Lines, Ajay Mishra’s office and the local court are located within a radius of 1 km, there was palpable tension due to the presence of the minister’s supporters. “Only the powerful have their way here. Let’s see what happens,” observed a local shopkeeper.

Ashish’s arrival at the Police Lines today didn’t come easy. The police had to paste summons at the local residence of the family’s native village Banbirpur. The October 12 memorial service also mounted pressure on state police to act fast.

Sidhu ends fast

Chandigarh: PPCC president Navjot Sidhu ended his fast after Ashish Mishra appeared before the police. “The Almighty gave me the strength to fight for a just cause … Path of truth will always triumph,” he tweeted. Alleging the UP administration had tried to sabotage his ‘satyagrah’ at 2 am, he wrote: “Braveheart Pawan Kashyap (brother of slain scribe Raman Kashyap) stood his ground for justice.” TNS