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Lakhimpur Kheri case: Witness attacked over Holi colour, UP govt tells top court

The UP government said it had "vehemently opposed" the bail application by Ashish Mishra who had allegedly run over farmers during a march last year in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Union minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra. (HT file)
Updated on Mar 29, 2022 05:12 PM IST
By, New Delhi

The Uttar Pradesh government, rejecting all allegations, has told the Supreme Court that it had "vehemently opposed" the bail application by Union minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra who had allegedly run over farmers during a march last year in Lakhimpur Kheri. It also said all efforts were taken to protect the witnesses and families of victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and the investigation had found that the altercation between a witness and the opposite party took place over the throwing of ‘gulal' (Holi colour).

The state government was responding to an allegation that one witness was attacked by some miscreants. The alleged attackers threatened the witness that Mishra is out on bail and the ruling party had also won the election and they would see to him. According to the affidavit, all the witnesses are also regularly contacted by the police for appraisal of their security conditions.

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On the last hearing advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, had said one of the prime protected witnesses was brutally attacked, a few days after bail was granted to Ashish Mishra.

Family members of the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident have moved Supreme Court challenging the Allahabad high court order, which granted bail to Ashish Mishra.

"The witnesses were interviewed telephonically most recently on March 20, 2022, and expressed satisfaction with the security provided to them and were informed that if they required any help in relation to their security, they should immediately contact the superintendent of police of their respective districts and would receive prompt assistance," the UP government said in the affidavit submitted in the top court.

Giving detail about the recent incident, the state government said as per the petitioners' case, one Diljot Singh, son of Jarnail Singh, was beaten by miscreants on March 10, 2022.

“As per the FIR registered by Diljot Singh, the attackers threatened him saying that the Respondent No. I (Ashish Mishra) is out on bail and the ruling party has also won the election and that they will see to him. However, during the course of the investigation, Diljot Singh's Gunner Manoj Singh (assigned to protect him as per this Court's Orders) as well as 3 independent eye witnesses to the incident were examined, and all 4 persons stated that the incident occurred suddenly due to an altercation between Diljot Singh and the attacker over the throwing of gulal on him," the affidavit said.

Referring to the Section 161 CrpC statements of the state government said that as per the eyewitnesses, on March 10, at around 8.15 pm, Diljot Singh came towards the Primary School near Danga, on a tractor-trolley laden with sugarcane.

“At that time, some people were playing with Holi gulal near the school and threw the gulal on Diljot Singh as well. When Diljot Singh objected, an altercation broke out between him and the others, in which one of the miscreants hit him with a belt and others kicked and punched him...contrary to the case out forth in the FIR registered by Diljot Singh, all the witnesses were ad idem on the fact that none of the miscreants mentioned either Ashish Mishra or the ruling party winning the elections, and that the incident was a result of a sudden altercation due to the dispute over Holi Gulal, and had no relation to the incident of October 3, 2021," it said.

The submission of the state government came as a reply to the petition seeking to cancel the bail of Ashish Mishra. The government said the submission of the petition that the state did not effectively oppose the bail application of the accused Ashish Mishra is "completely untrue".

"That at the very outset, the Answering Respondent (Uttar Pradesh) takes exception to the averments in the special leave petition (SLP) to the effect that State did not effectively oppose the Bail Application of the Accused Respondent No 1 (Ashish Mishra). The same is completely untrue, as is also borne out from a perusal of the Impugned Order itself...." read the affidavit.

The UP government added that as per the Allahabad high court's order of February 10, 2022, the limitation period against the same is still running, and the decision to file SLP against the same is pending consideration before the relevant authorities.

On October 3 last year, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri during violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's visit to the area.

Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV following which the driver and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers.

A journalist also died in the violence that triggered outrage among opposition parties and farmer groups agitating over the Centre's now-repealed farm laws.

(With inputs from agencies)

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