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Friday, October 22, 2021

Sack minister for fair probe, arrest accused son: Opposition

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra further demanded a probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a high court into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
Updated: October 8, 2021 6:03:43 am
Priyanka with the victim’s family in Bahraich, Thursday. (PTI)

Amid the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh constituting a panel under a retired High Court judge to probe the Sunday’s violence and deaths in Lakhimpur Kheri, the Opposition parties demanded the resignation of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra to ensure a free and fair investigation and the immediate arrest of his son, Ashish Mishra, who has been booked for the murder of four protesting farmers.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra further demanded a probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a high court into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. “In my view and that of the victims’ families as well, the case should be probed by a sitting Supreme Court or high court judge, and not the retired judge,” she said as she headed towards Bahraich to meet the families of the two farmers mowed down by a cavalcade of vehicles belonging to the BJP minister.

“I don’t want to comment on the probe as it has not started yet. But I can say that for unbiased probe, the minister should resign as he has the Home portfolio and all this comes under him,” she said, adding that the families of the victims she had met on Wednesday evening told her that they were not interested in the compensation announced by the government, but “want justice”. “The families said just one thing that they do not bother about compensation, they want justice… and they will not get justice till the Union Minister of State for Home (Ajay Mishra) resigns. Till he remains as the minister, an independent investigation cannot take place,” Priyanka said.

“All the police force was deployed to stop us. Police surrounded the victims’ families so that no one could reach there to meet them. But you (government) did not deploy your force to arrest the criminal. Where were the police on the day the incident took place? Are the police only to stop leaders,” she said.

“I will continue my fight till the minister is sacked and his son is arrested. I have pledged this before the families,” she added.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who met the families of the dead farmers and journalist Raman Kashyap, also demanded the minister’s resignation and the arrest of his son.

“As fingers are raised towards MoS (Ajay Mishra) in the BJP government, the accused in the Lakhimpur case are not yet sent to jail,” Yadav told reporters in Lucknow before heading to Lakhimpur to meet the victims’ families. “Those named in the FIR should go to jail. The government should take immediate action and the matter should be probed by a sitting judge of the High Court. There are video clips, statements of eyewitnesses, the statements (of the minister) in which he is threatening farmers. As he (accused Ashish Mishra) is the son of the MoS, action has not been taken yet,” he said.

“Do you think farmers can get justice till he (father of accused) is MoS?” he asked.

After meeting family members of Lovepreet Singh (19) in Lakhimpur, Akhilesh said the family wants justice. “All the families want justice and they will not get it till one remains the Union Minister of State for Home while his son is booked for murder… The minister should resign and his son arrested,” he said.

“If action is not taken against the minister, then the poor would believe that those powerfull can go scot-free also as everyone had seen and heard the kind of language used by the minister in the video,” he said, referring to a video in which he is heard threatening protesting farmers a few days before the Sunday’s incident.

When asked about the BJP’s allegation that the Opposition is doing politics on the incident, Yadav said, “The BJP is doing politics and it is a clever party. We want to know what was done in the Kanpur Manish Gupta case. Why are policemen still absconding? Why is an absconding IPS officer not arrested?”

Kanpur-based businessman Manish Gupta had died under suspicious circumstances inside a hotel in Gorakhpur on Monday and six policemen were booked for murder. “People from all political parties are here so that the families get justice. The son of a minister will not be arrested as there is a BJP government both in UP and at the Centre,” he said demanding Rs 2 crore compensation to the victims’ families.

“The Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognizance of the matter. It has generated hope among the poor families for getting justice,” the SP president said, adding that the minister and his son are guilty and all the reality will come out in the open in the apex court.

The former chief minister assured that if the BJP government did not help them, he will do all that is possible when his party is voted to power in the upcoming state Assembly elections.

BSP chief Mayawati, meanwhile, accused the BJP of having a “biased” attitude towards the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.

A BSP delegation, led by Rajya Sabha MP and party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, also met families of those killed in the incident.

“Those named in the FIR are roaming freely… Unless those who are sitting in the government are removed, till then independent investigation in the case cannot happen,” the BSP leader said. He also offered legal help to the families of victims if required.

Later in the day, a Congress delegation led by state unit president Ajay Kumar Lallu sat on a dharna outside the Raj Bhavan in Lucknow, saying they were not allowed to Governor Anandiben Patel and hand over a memorandum to them.

Besides demanding the resignation of the Union minister and arrest of his son, the party has sought action against those police officers who allegedly manhandled Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on late Sunday night before she was detained in Sitapur while on her way to Lakhimpur Kheri.

The memorandum also drew the attention of the Governor to the “illegal” detention of party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to stop her from going to meet the bereaved families and the manner in which former party president Rahul Gandhi was made to wait at the Lucknow airport for a long time on Wednesday when he had arrived here to visit Lakhimpur.

— With PTI Inputs

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