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Lakhimpur Kheri case: Screws tighten on MoS son, SIT says killing of farmers was planned

"During the hearing, the defence counsel raised objections over including section 34 of IPC against the accused. They cited that conspiracy charge was already mentioned in the FIR," S P Yadav, senior prosecuting officer, Lakhimpur Kheri said.

Written by Manish Sahu | Lucknow |
Updated: December 15, 2021 8:33:44 am
The accused have been arrested in connection with FIR number 219 which pertains to the death of the four farmers and a local journalist in Tikunia. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

Firming up the case against Union MoS Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra and the 12 other accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, a local court Tuesday accepted several new charges raised by the revamped Special Investigation Team, including attempt to murder, even as the SIT submitted that the killing of four farmers and a journalist on October 3 was a “planned conspiracy”.

The court, however, rejected the SIT’s plea to invoke the charge of “common intention” behind the incident following objections from the defence counsel.

On Monday, the SIT submitted in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court that the killings “did not happen due to negligence or callousness” and that actions of the accused were “deliberate with an intention to kill”.

It sought to invoke fresh charges under IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 34 (common intention) against the accused, and the Arms Act.

These charges were not part of the FIR lodged at the Tikonia police station on October 4 in connection with the killing of the farmers who were hit by a convoy of three cars, including one owned by Union MoS Ajay Mishra. The family of the journalist had said that he, too, died in the incident.

The SIT retained other charges from the FIR under IPC sections 302 (murder), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with lethal weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

But it dropped three relatively lesser charges under IPC sections 279 (rash driving), 338 (causing grievous hurt by acts endangering life or personal safety of others) and 304 A (death by negligence).

The new charges come at a crucial time for Ashish Mishra whose bail application is pending with the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court. The matter has been listed for January.

All the 13 accused were on Tuesday brought to the court from Lakhimpur jail, where they are lodged, for the hearing.

“On the SIT’s request, Chief Judicial Magistrate Chinta Ram allowed IPC sections 307 and 326 to be invoked against the accused along with sections 3, 25, 30 and 35 of the Arms Act. During the hearing (Tuesday), the defence counsel raised objections over including section 34 of IPC against the accused. They cited that conspiracy charge was already mentioned in the FIR. After hearing both sides, the court allowed the objection,” said S P Yadav, senior prosecuting officer, Lakhimpur Kheri.

“The SIT said it found during investigation that the crime did not happen due to negligence but there was a deliberate and planned conspiracy with intention to kill,” he said.

On November 17, the Supreme Court upgraded the SIT by incorporating three IPS officers — S B Shiradkar, Padmaja Chauhan and Preetinder Singh — “to preserve the faith and trust of people in the criminal administration of the justice system”. It also appointed retired Punjab and Haryana High Court judge, Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, to monitor the probe.

The FIR on the killing of farmers was lodged by Bahraich resident Jagjeet Singh against Ashish Mishra and 15-20 unidentified persons on various charges, including murder, rioting, murder and criminal conspiracy.

The second FIR was lodged by a local resident, Sumit Jaiswal, against unidentified miscreants who allegedly beat to death the three others killed that day, including two BJP leaders and a driver of one of the vehicles.

Four persons have been arrested in the case registered under various IPC sections, including 302 (murder), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others).

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