The killing of peasants in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri was a “planned conspiracy”, a special investigation team has said, in the case in which Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s imprisoned son Ashish Mishra is the main accused.
The charges against Ashish Mishra should be changed, police investigating the case have written to a judge.
Ashish Mishra and others are already charged with murder and conspiracy. The Special Investigation Team wants “assassination attempts” and other charges added.
While the ruling BJP is preparing for polls in Uttar Pradesh, the new development signals huge problems for Ajay Mishra, the Union’s interior minister, who has remained in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government despite calls for his dismissal.
The killings in Lakhimpur Kheri caused massive anger among peasants, one of the main voting blocs in the upcoming election.
Eight people were killed on October 3 at Lakhimpur Kheri during a peasant protest.
After four farmers were run over, allegedly by an SUV driven by Ashish Mishra, violence broke out in which four more, including a journalist, were killed.
Videos that caused waves of shock and anger showed an SUV driving over farmers at full speed.
Two FIRs were lodged by Lakhimpur police. One filed by the family of the dead peasants named Ashish Mishra as the main accused. The second FIR was filed by a Sumit Jaiswal, a BJP worker in Lakhimpur, against unnamed farmers who were accused of inciting violence subsequently. In viral videos, Jaiswal was seen running from one of the SUVs that hit the farmers. He was later arrested as a co-defendant in the Ashish Mishra FIR.
The UP government faced many difficult questions when the Supreme Court heard a petition on the matter.
Last month, the Supreme Court ordered the special investigation team to complete the investigation quickly. It also added three IPS officers to the team – those who are not from Uttar Pradesh, although they have been assigned UP cadres. This was done due to concerns that local police officers would manipulate the probe.