LUCKNOW: Even after 72 hours of the violence that broke out in Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday, not a single arrest has been made.
Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra – charged with murder and rioting the FIR in connection with the violence – has not yet been arrested. This has been the common refrain of the opposition leaders.
A top cop of UP police attributed the inaction in the case to pre-occupation wherein the police administration was busy with negotiations, the autopsy of bodies, and then cremation.
"Initially, we were busy with negotiations with farmers and then getting the post-mortem examinations done and then getting the cremations of the bodies,” said SN Sabat, ADG, Lucknow Zone.
While the farmers, who were protesting against the visit of state's Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya on Sunday, alleged that Ashish Mishra was at the wheels of an SUV that ran over a group of protestors, killing four people and injuring several others which led to further violence resulting in the death of three BJP workers, a driver of the minister and a journalist Raman Kashyap, Union minister Ajay Mishra offered to resign from his ministerial position if his son’s involvement and his presence at the violence site was proved.
Ajay Mishra had acknowledged the accident but said the vehicle overturned, crushing the protesters who were throwing stones at the cavalcade.
The farmers have also alleged that one of the four people had died of bullet wounds, demanding that a second post-mortem be conducted at a Delhi hospital. The body has not been cremated yet, even though the funeral of the other three farmers was conducted on Tuesday afternoon.
Opposition leaders have repeatedly questioned the police inaction against the main accused named in the FIR and whose vehicle was ploughed into the group of protestors.
“Where is Ashish Mishra? Why is he not being arrested? It was unfortunate that even after 72 hours, the man who is named as the main accused in the violence in the FIR done by the farmers’ is still comfortably out of the police net. A protest in which black flags would be shown to BJP leaders peacefully, turned into a hotbed of violence within no time,” said a senior SP leader adding that the present scenario was a reflection of lawlessness and high handedness of the administration.
While arrested Congress leaders including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Deependar Hooda questioned why the main accused Ashish Mishra was roaming free in Lakhimpur despite being named in the FIR, his father claimed that let the police investigate the case and gather proof against Ashish, then the action would follow.
However, Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, the SP leader said that first of all Ashish should be taken into custody, and if the probe has to be free and fair carrying credibility, then the union minister should quit his ministerial post.
The SP leader also criticised the Yogi government for cordoning off the trouble-torn district and restricting the entry of political leaders. “What did they want to hide. Why such a blanket lockdown for the political leaders only. Were the people in Lakhimpur not allowed movement in the aftermath of the incident?” he asked.