Yogi government on edge as Congress plans to make Lakhimpur Kheri a big poll issue

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explain who are the accused against whom FIR has been registered in connection with the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, in which eight people were killed, and whether they have been arrested.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana told the counsel appearing for Uttar Pradesh to explain this in the status report.

The counsel told the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, that a judicial commission has been constituted to inquire into the incident and the state would file a status report in the matter.

The apex court has posted the matter for hearing on Friday.

Eight people were killed in the violence on October 3 during a farmers’ protest at Lakhimpur Kheri.

The incident has triggered a major political storm with opposition parties accusing the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh of shielding the culprits.

Earlier in the day, the top court had said it would like to hear the two lawyers who had written a letter seeking a high-level judicial inquiry, also involving the CBI, into the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which eight people were killed in violence during a farmers’ protest.

The bench said that the letter was to be registered as a PIL and due to some “miscommunication” it was listed as the suo motu (on its own) case.

Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in Lakhinpur Kheri when a group agitating against the Centre’s three new farm laws was holding a demonstration against the visit of UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on October 3.

Two BJP workers and a driver were beaten to death allegedly by the angry protesters, while a local journalist was also killed in the violence.

An FIR under section 302 of IPC (murder) has been registered against the Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra and others in the incident in Tikonia police station but no arrest has been made so far.

Farmer leaders have claimed that Ashish was in one of the cars that allegedly knocked down the protesters but the minister has denied the allegations.

Several farmer organisations are protesting against the passage of three laws — The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 since last November.

The apex court had stayed the implementation of these laws in January.

Initially, the protests started from Punjab in November last year and later spread to Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.