Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra was arrested at 10:50 pm on Saturday and sent to the Lakhimpur jail around 1 am on Sunday after 12 hours of questioning in connection with the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri violence. Ashish Mishra was named in an FIR following allegations that he was in one of the vehicles that mowed down four farmers protesting over UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit last Sunday. Farmer leaders and opposition parties had been demanding Mishra’s arrest but the minister and his son had denied the allegations.
Two BJP workers and their driver were allegedly lynched by angry farmers in the incident. Local journalist Raman Kashyap also died in the violence, which has triggered a political storm and put the BJP government on the back foot in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Lakhimpur Kheri violence: Here’s what led to Ashish Mishra arrest
DIG Upendra Agarwal, heading the special investigation team (SIT) of Uttar Pradesh Police probing the case, told reporters that Ashish Misra was not cooperating during the interrogation. “We are taking him in custody on grounds of non-cooperation and evasive replies. He will be produced in court and sustained custodial interrogation will follow,” he said.
His inability to respond to pointed questions about the sequence of events on October 3, when a group of farmers was trampled over by an SUV belonging to him, finally led Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, to jail.
According to a senior official in the investigation team, Ashish Mishra was not able to explain his location between 2:30 pm and 3:30 pm on October 3 when the incident took place.
Various news reports stated Ashish Mishra had said that he was at a wrestling event around 4-5 km from the scene of the violence on Sunday. However, witnesses have said he was missing from the event between 2 and 4 pm, his phone location showed him closer to the crime scene.
Though the minister’s son admitted the SUV that ran over farmers belongs to him, but he maintained that he was not in it. His team said he had produced around 150 images of the wrestling match where he was present on the day of the incident.
“To every question, he had one answer – I was not present at the spot where the incident took place. We asked him who drove his SUV, how many people were sitting in it, how many cars were there in the convoy and for every question he said he was not present,” said the police officer.
When asked why the vehicle did not stop after hitting the people and why was there a crowd on the road, Ashish Mishra had one reply -I was not there.
At times, he even lost his cool and said, “Even if you ask me one lakh times, my answer will be the same.”
He even feigned complete ignorance about the fact that his men carried arms with them.
When the police team asked him the veracity of video footage, he had produced to substantiate his presence at the wrestling match earlier in the district, Ashish said, “You can get it tested from forensic experts.”
He still had no explanation for his whereabouts at the time when the incident took place because the wrestling match had ended by then.
When asked why he was not cooperating with the investigations, Ashish said, “Whenever I am needed, I will come. I am not a criminal– I am the son of a politician and a businessman in my own right.”
(With inputs from agencies)