Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son, Ashish Mishra, has been taken into custody after being question by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of UP Police over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, where his car ran over protesting farmers that killed eight of them. He was questioned for over 12 hours during which it was stated that Mishra 'did not cooperate' and gave evasive answers, leading to his arrest.
The arrest comes in five days after murder charges were put on him. He was summoned before as well but he skipped it citing his father's health as the main reason. The late reaction from the police has also raised questions about any preferential treatment that might have taken place, due to the fact that his father is a junior Minister of State in the Central Government.
Alibi Not Strong Enough
Ashish Mishra was named in the FIR, accusing him of being in one of the cars that killed the protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3. The incident caused political upheaval as two BJP workers faced the farmers' wrath, which resulted in their death.
In the second summon, Ashish Mishra appeared in front of SIT at around 10:30 am on Saturday where he was questioned for over 12 hours. He was asked about his whereabouts on the fateful day but he was not able to give the appropriate answers that raised further suspicions. As stated by NDTV, Ashish Mishra stated that he was at a wrestling event that was 4-5 km from the crime scene. However, the police personnel that was at the event denied his presence, saying that he was actually missing from 2 to 4 pm.
Further, the police had analysed the video showing the incident. It was claimed that it was Mishra's driver, Hari Om, who was driving the car that day. In the clip, a person wearing a white kurta is seen doing the deed. In reality, the driver was wearing a yellow coloured kurta. Along with that, Mishra was not cooperating during the questioning after which he was taken into custody and sent into judicial remand upto October 11.
DIG Upendra Agarwal led the SIT team in the investigation. Speaking to the media, he said, "He was arrested after he failed to cooperate in the interrogation. He could not inform or validate various points regarding his whereabouts at the time of the incident. And we will try get information after getting him on police remand."
Outrage After His Arrest
After Ashish Mishra's arrest, the farmers and several opposition leaders are demanding Ajay Mishra's resignation. The pressure is mounting on the BJP, especially as Uttar Pradesh is gearing up to go into the assembly election and Lakhimpur Kheri will be the focal point. While the arrest itself was the need of the hour, questions have been appropriately raised about his late arrest. Despite several eyewitness accounts and videos showing the incident, it was only after Supreme Court's involvement when the state police stepped up and decided to take action against the perpetrators.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) has called for 'rail roko' on October 18 to protest against the violence. They have also demanded Ajay Mishra's resignation as they believe this was a part of a 'pre-planned conspiracy' to derail the peaceful movement.