Lakhimpur Khiri witnesses too scared to step out of home, seek security
Three key witnesses claim to have been attacked, beaten and received death threats. But complaints to the police and the court have not yet yielded any result, they say
Witnesses in the Lakhimpur Kheri case, in which Union MoS (Home) Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra is accused of deliberately mowing down farmers protesting against farm laws, have stopped going out alone. They are afraid of coming out of their houses and have stopped going to their fields, they say. They apprehend being attacked or beaten up by musclemen owing their allegiance to the minister.
Dilbag Singh Sandhu claims he escaped an attempt on his life after some unidentified miscreants opened fire. Singh is the leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait) group and was returning home on June 1 night from Gola Kotwali when bikeborne assailants opened fire at him.
The BKU leader said the miscreants punctured a tyre of his SUV following which he had to stop the vehicle. “The assailants attempted to open the doors and windows of the SUV. When they failed, they fired two shots at the windowpane of the driver’s side,” he said.
“I could save my life as I lay down on the floor of the car,” Sandhu recalled. Sandhu says by the time he reached home the news had spread like wildfire. “My wife and son were crying and I was asked to give assurances that I would not leave the house alone,” he said and added that he had received threatening letters earlier.
Witness No. 2 Diljot Singh: A resident of Nighasan, he claims he was attacked in March when miscreants smashed his head. “I was pulled by my hair. They were all BJP men and were angry with me for becoming a witness in the case. Since then, I have virtually stopped going out. My farm is around 8 km from my house and I have to pass through Minister Ajay Mishra’s village. After the March incident, I now travel almost twice the distance to reach my farm,” Singh said.
Worried about the future, he says, “I want to study in UK and have applied too. But I am afraid that these people are very powerful, they could implicate me in a false case.” He has informed the court about the threat he is receiving. The court has asked the police to provide him security but he is still waiting.
Hardeep Singh: He lives in Bilaspur, Rampur, about 250 km from Lakhimpur. Hardeep says, “I am an eyewitness of that incident when Ashish Mishra’s Thar Jeep narrowly missed driving over me. I had broken my leg.”
He claims he was attacked in April but could escape because of the sudden arrival of local people. The family has 11 acres of farm land but now only his brother takes care of it as he is not allowed to leave the house.
The Case: On October 3 last year, a convoy of three SUVs, including a Thar owned by Ajay Mishra, ran over a group of protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri. Four farmers—Lovepreet Singh (20), Daljeet Singh (35), Nachattar Singh (60), and Gurvinder Singh (19)—and journalist Raman Kashyap, 30, were killed and several others were injured.
In the violence that followed, two BJP leaders Shubham Mishra (26) and Shyam Sunder (40) and the driver of the Thar vehicle, Hariom Mishra (35), were also killed. The mob also set ablaze two vehicles, including the Thar.
The SIT formed by the state government had arrested 13 people including Ashish Mishra, for the killing of the farmers and the journalist. In January this year, the SIT filed a chargesheet against 14, including Ashish Mishra and his uncle, Virendra Shukla. Except for Virendra Shukla, all the accused are lodged in jail. Four people have been chargesheeted in the murder case of BJP leaders and the driver of the Thar vehicle.
(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)