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Saturday, October 23, 2021

MoS son skips summons; Yogi vows to punish guilty

UP Police Friday issued a second summons to Union MoS Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish, who is alleged to have driven the vehicle belonging to his father that hit the protesters.

Written by Asad Rehman | Lakhimpur Kheri |
Updated: October 9, 2021 7:31:35 am
People gather to pay their respects to the farmers who were killed in Lakhimpr Kheri. (Express Photo: Vishal Srivastav)

Even as UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath described the deaths of eight persons, including four farm protesters, in Lakhimpur Kheri as “sad and tragic” and vowed to punish the guilty, UP Police Friday issued a second summons to Union MoS Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish, who is alleged to have driven the vehicle belonging to his father that hit the protesters.

Ashish failed to respond to the first summons to appear before police Friday morning. In the afternoon, a second notice was pasted outside the Minister’s house in Lakhimpur Kheri.

The notice, under CrPC section 160, read: “With reference to a case at Tikunia police station, you were directed to be personally present at the Crime Branch office in police lines to present your side, but you didn’t appear… Hence you are again directed to appear tomorrow (Saturday) and present your side… If you don’t do so, action will be taken as per rules.”

ADG (Lucknow zone) Satya Narain Sabat told The Indian Express: “A second notice was issued on Friday. Till now, 10 names of accused have come to our knowledge based on the probe. Out of the 10, two were arrested on Thursday. Five others have been identified and we are checking their role. Three others, whose names have come out, are dead.”

Ashish Mishra alias Monu is the only accused named in the complaints filed with police. Two of his associates, Ashish Pandey and Luvkush Rana, were arrested Thursday. Two local BJP workers, Mishra’s driver, and a journalist were killed in the violence triggered by the incident involving three vehicles, including the Minister’s.

Speaking to reporters in Lucknow, MoS Mishra alleged that “rioters posing as farmers” had beaten people that day. “If my son was there, he would have been killed. False allegations are being levelled in an unfortunate manner. UP has Yogiji’s and BJP’s government, and the probe here is unbiased. If it was some other party’s government…an FIR wouldn’t have been lodged against the son of a person in such a high post,” he said.

Earlier, speaking at a CNN-News18 event, Adityanath said: “The Lakhimpur Kheri incident is sad and tragic. And the government will look into it deeply. In a democracy, there is no place for violence. When the law is giving protection to everyone, no one has the right to take the law in their hands. Whoever it may be, the law is the same for everyone.”

The Chief Minister said: “…There is a Supreme Court ruling that before an arrest, you must have sufficient evidence. We will not arrest anyone depending on someone’s allegation…But yes, if someone is guilty, we will not spare them, whoever it may be.”

He said: “This is the government’s resolve and this is what the government has done in the state. Whoever it was, if evidence was found against them, they faced action, whether it was a BJP MLA or an Opposition MLA. Despite the posts they held, we did not show any leniency to anyone. In the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, too, we have been doing this and will continue to do so.”

Asked why Opposition leaders were stopped from visiting Lakhimpur Kheri, and whether the Central and state governments were “hiding something”, Adityanath said: “We are not hiding anything. We lodged cases based on the complaints. The government’s first priority is to ensure peace and law and order. Our Opposition friends are not figures of goodwill. There are several faces among them who must be behind the violence… Let the facts come to the fore. Everything will be crystal clear then.”

The UP CM took aim at the Congress CMs of Punjab and Chhattisgarh who had reached the state to accompany their party leaders, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, to meet the victims’ families.

“The Chhattisgarh CM can’t handle his state. Some farmers were killed by police bullets. He has no sympathy for them. He has no knowledge of Lakhimpur Kheri. They want to do sycophancy…The Punjab CM can’t manage his state. He is the new CM and he has not been able to decide who the DGP and other officials are… They are too busy with their internal issues… They are throwing stones at other’s houses to hide their failures,” he said.

Accusing Opposition leaders, including Rahul and Priyanka, of “doing political tours”, the CM said: “Suddenly, these people have woken up and they felt that they can use Lakhimpur Kheri as an excuse. Our primary job is to maintain law and order. They wanted to create animosity there. After they went there, the victims gave a strong counter that they have been helped by the government. And that they are content and that politics should not be done over this. This was said by the victims’ families. All sides said this.”

Asked about video clips that show the Minister’s car hitting the protesters, he said: “We have also announced phone numbers for people to upload any evidence. We will make things crystal clear. No one will face injustice. No one will be spared. But no action will be taken under pressure from anyone.”

Asked about Ajay Mishra’s remarks from the previous week against the farm protesters, which heightened tensions in the area, Aditynanath said: “There is a difference between political speeches and threats. Political statements are made from a stage. It is not just BJP leaders who make political speeches. Several others do so as well. But it doesn’t mean you kill someone. If you feel someone has done something wrong, then there are different ways (to deal with it). You can complain. But you can’t take the law in your hands.”

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