The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence filed a 5,000-page charge sheet in the court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) on Monday against 14 accused, including Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish, and brother-in-law Virendra Shukla. Three BJP workers, Shyam Sundar Nishad, Shubham Mishra and Hari Om Mishra, who were allegedly lynched by farmers in retaliation, were named as accused in this case too.
The SIT has not named the junior home minister in the charge sheet pertaining to the Lakhimpur Kheri case nor questioned him so far. Sources in the SIT, however, said a supplementary charge sheet will be filed after enough evidence is collected against “some more people”.
An SIT member said, “All those named in the complaint given by the farmers will be questioned. This is the reason why investigation in this case is still not complete.” Ajay Mishra’s name figures in the complaint by farmers as well.
Virendra Shukla, who is the block chief from Palia in District Kheri and was identified as the owner of the Scorpio SUV that was part of Ashish’s convoy, has been charged under IPC Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence). He is yet to be arrested as the charge against him is bailable.
Senior prosecution officer SP Yadav said, “A charge sheet has been submitted by the SIT against main accused Ashish Mishra and 16 others. Three accused in this case are already dead and, hence, charges were framed against 14 accused. Of these, 13 are in jail, and their judicial custody was converted to trial custody. The next date of hearing in the case is 10 January. Shukla has been summoned to appear before court on 10 January. He can apply for bail even before this date.”
Yadav said, “We have requested the court to impound important parts of the case diary under Section 173 (6) of the CRPC. Investigation in this case is still underway, and a supplementary charge sheet is expected soon.”
The SIT member said, “Statements of 99 witnesses were recorded under Section 164 CrPC before the court, and all of them have submitted that Ashish Mishra was present on the spot. Testimonies of witnesses were verified through investigation at the spot.”
Four farmers and a journalist were allegedly mowed down by Ashish’s convoy in Lakhimpur Kheri on 3 October 2021. An FIR was initially registered under Sections 302 (murder), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapons), 149 (offence committed in prosecution of common object), 279 (rash driving), 338 (causing grievous hurt to any person by doing any act so rashly), 304A (causing death by negligence) and 120b (criminal conspiracy) of IPC.
On 14 December 2021, the SIT had submitted in court that the incident was “a premeditated one and not an act of negligence”. The court later dropped the sections pertaining to “accident” from the FIR and included Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt using weapon which is likely to cause death), 34 (criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the IPC, along with Sections 3/25, 5/27 and 30 of the Arms Act.
Sukhwinder Singh, the son of farmer Gurwinder Singh from Bahraich, who was killed during the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, said, “We had withdrawn our protest after the incident in the belief that action will be taken against the minister. The government is not fulfilling its promises. Ajay Mishra should be sent to jail too.”