Lakhimpur Kheri incident: Union Minister's son arrested after 12-hour questioning
Ashish Mishra, an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri case, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police on Saturday after 12 hours of questioning. Mishra—who is the son of Union Minister of State (Home) Ajay Mishra—was accused of driving a vehicle that mowed down a crowd of protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri last Sunday. Eight people were killed in the incident and the ensuing clash.
Mishra was arrested on Saturday after being questioned by the UP Police for over 12 hours. Reportedly, the police said that he had been giving "evasive answers" and could not provide an alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the incident. He had previously claimed that he was not present at the scene of the crime at the time of the incident.
According to NDTV, witnesses said Mishra was missing between 2-4 pm from the event where he claims to have been present. His phone location also showed him closer to the scene of the crime. Reportedly, he could not explain his whereabouts during questioning.
The police had registered a case of murder, criminal conspiracy, rash driving, rioting, etc, on Tuesday. Thirteen people—including Mishra—have been named in the FIR. Such grave charges usually warrant an immediate arrest. The delay in the arrest had led to questions of differential treatment as Mishra is a Union Minister's son. The Supreme Court itself had pulled up the UP government on the same.
The SC had said Friday that it was dissatisfied with the steps taken by the UP government in the case. The UP government had then provided assurances to meet all "shortfalls" in the case. Incidentally, earlier that day, Mishra had also skipped police summons and was reported to have attempted fleeing. The Union Minister said his son skipped summons owing to his poor health.
Farmers were protesting against agricultural laws ahead of an event in the minister's paternal village in Lakhimpur Kheri's Tikunia Sunday. Mishra was allegedly going to receive the event's chief guest. A video shows the minister's convoy ramming violently into farmers, triggering a clash. Eight people—four farmers, a journalist, a driver, and two BJP workers—were killed. Eyewitnesses said Mishra was driving one of the vehicles.
The minister has admitted that the SUV that crushed the farmers belongs to his family. However, he had claimed that neither him nor his son was present in the vehicles that mowed down the farmers. Two people—Luv Kush and Ashish Pandey—were arrested earlier Thursday.