A senior police official in the special investigation team (SIT) probing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, on the condition of anonymity, has claimed that the main accused Ashish Misra, son of Minister of State (MoS) for Home affairs Ajay Misra, could not establish his presence away from the spot during the time of the incident when a fleet of three cars, led by a jeep, mowed down farmers in Tikunia area on 3 October.
It was learnt earlier from sources that the main accused Ashish Misra, while appearing for the second summon, submitted videos and pictures of the wrestling event, claiming to be present there, as against the allegations of him being in the Thar jeep that mowed down farmers. But the SIT is claiming otherwise.
"The videos and photographs he (Ashish Misra) produced have a crucial missing portion on his whereabouts spanning for almost an hour from around 3 pm on the day of the incident. Even his lawyer will admit to this,"a source in the SIT told The Quint
Awadesh Kumar Singh, the accused's lawyer, claimed that the SIT had no evidence that his client was at the spot at the time of the incident. Singh also dismissed the SIT's allegations that Ashish Misra didn't cooperate during the questioning when he appeared for the second summon, following which he was arrested.
Meanwhile, Shekhar Bharti, the driver of the black SUV that was behind the jeep during the time of the incident in Tikunia, was arrested on Tuesday. A video showing him purportedly being interrogated by a DSP rank officer at the spot of the incident, surrounded by a frenzied crowd, had also surfaced.
As per Bharti's latest statement to the SIT, owner of the SUV Ankit Das, a Lucknow resident who has now filed a surrender plea, and his two gunners, were seated in the SUV and fled soon after the incident. Bharti was caught and roughed up by the crowd before police intervened and rescued him.
According to the UP Police, four people, including the driver, have been arrested while three suspects whose names surfaced during the probe in the first FIR, had died on the spot. Main accused Ashish Misra is now undergoing interrogation in the SIT custody after a local court, on Sunday, approved police remand for him for three days.
SIT To Begin Probe in Second FIR
Prashant Kumar, additional director general (law and order), said that the SIT will soon begin probe in the second FIR registered in the case involving the death of four people, including journalist Raman Kashyap.
It is known to all that four people died in the second incident. Proper investigation will be carried out by police and the SITPrashant Kumar, additional director general (Law and order)
The journalist's family had claimed that Kashyap, who was on field to cover the Deputy Chief Minister (CM) Keshav Prasad Maurya's trip to the district, was run over by Ashish Misra's jeep. They had also claimed of a wound on his hand that was likely caused by a bullet injury, though the post-mortem report had ruled it out.
The second FIR was registered by Sumit Jaiswal, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker who claimed he was present in the Thar jeep along with the driver Hariom Mishra and his friend Shubham Mishra – both dead. Jaiswal in his FIR has claimed that Hariom and Shubham were killed by farmers and he learnt about it from social media.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait had courted controversy for saying that he did not consider the people who killed the BJP workers in Lakhimpur Kheri as culprits as they only reacted to the SUV running over protesting farmers and called it “reaction to an action”.
Suspense Over MoS Ajay Misra's Resignation
The BJP-ruled state government and Union government have been under constant attack from the Opposition, which has been relentlessly demanding resignation of Minister of State (MoS) for Home Affairs Ajay Teni Misra. A recent statement by the UP BJP Chief Swatantra Dev Singh had sparked speculations that the party could soon take a hard step and ask Misra to step down as its first major step towards damage control post the incident.
Being a political leader doesn't mean that you loot, it doesn't mean that you mow down anyone by Fortuner. We are in this party to serve the poor. Politics is not a part-time job,"Swatantra Dev Singh had said at an event recently.
In the backdrop of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and the Opposition upping the ante demanding sacking of Ajay Misra, a major brainstorming session involving top UP BJP leaders, including Swatantra Dev Singh, General Secretary Sunil Bansal, and UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya was convened by party president JP Nadda in the national capital on 11 October.
MoS Misra was inducted in the last Union cabinet reshuffle and his induction was seen as an attempt by the party to consolidate its hold over the Brahmin community, which according to the Opposition, has been feeling alienated from the BJP over the the party's alleged anti-Brahmin stance.