Farmers repeat minister's son was in the jeep and ask why others would be sent to receive Dy CM?

Even as Ashish Mishra, son of MOS (Home), appeared before the Crime Branch in Lakhimpur Kheri on Saturday to plead his innocence, UP CM has claimed there is no evidence against him

Representative image
Representative image

Biswajeet Banerjee

While Ashish Mishra 'Monu' appeared before the UP Crime Branch in Lakhimpur Khiri on Saturday and joined the investigation, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath told a TV channel on Friday that there was no evidence so far that the minister's son was even present there. When his attention was drawn to the threat the minister had held out against farmers, the CM downplayed it by saying that there was difference between political speech and a threat.

The implications are that the state government is determined not to arrest the minister's son, and declare him as a witness. It has already named three BJP workers killed at Tikunia ( Lakhimpur Kheri) as the accused. But the two occupants of the jeep who survived and who are close to the minister's son have not been interrogated even now.

Ashish Mishra has claimed that he never left the venue of the wrestling tournament in his village on Sunday. While the dread of the Mishras is such that nobody is willing to speak in the village, conflicting versions have emerged. One such version holds that the minister's son had indeed left the venue after he was informed the farmers were not clearing the road and were not giving his people the right of way. He had, according to this version, lost his cool and had driven off in his jeep.

Farmers questioned Ashish Mishra's version that he never left the venue and asked why he would have sent lowly BJP functionaries and his minions to 'receive' the state's Deputy Chief Minister. Ashish Mishra, it was widely known, was an aspirant for a BJP ticket to contest the assembly election next year. "Does it make any sense that he would have sent others to receive the minister and not go himself?" asks a farmer from the area.

He would also have been recognised by the state government officials and policemen deployed on the spot, farmers claim. And they also claim that the policemen helped him escape. However, even as the SIT and Crime Branch continue with their investigation, farmers apprehend that the cover up has already begun.

The UP Police are telling the media that the jeep was being driven by Ashish Mishra's driver Hari Om Mishra, who was allegedly lynched by the farmers after the jeep ran over and killed four of them. But there are others who seem to have told the police on record that the jeep was with 'Bhaiyya'.

The key accused is the man who was driving the jeep and even if it is finally established that late Hari Om Mishra was driving it, the two surviving occupants of the jeep have not explained why the driver mowed the farmers down and under what provocation. Curiously, they do not seem to have been summoned for questioning yet.

Others have maintained that it was Shyam Sunder, a BJP worker, who was very close to Ashish Mishra, who was driving the car. Hari Om Mishra was in the jeep but Shyam Sunder was at the wheels. Another BJP leader Shubham Mishra was sitting on the left-hand seat of the driver.

The farmers claim that MoS Ajay Mishra’s son was sitting in the car. In an FIR lodged with the police, they however say that Ashish Mishra was sitting on the left-hand side seat and had opened fire at the protesters. The police have registered a case of murder and rioting against the minister’s son and 13 others. The police have invoked Sections 302 (murder), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 147 (rioting) over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

The Minister has denied the involvement of his son. He claimed his son was at his ancestral village since 11 am on October 3. He even claimed that over at least 2,000 people present at the venue, including district administration officials.

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