In a key development on Monday, the Uttar Pradesh Special Investigation Team (SIT) filed a chargesheet spanning 5000 pages in the Lakhimpur Kheri case. The opposition which has sought Union MoS Ajay Mishra's ouster received a big boost as the latter's son Ashish Mishra has been named as the main accused in this case. Moreover, Ajay Mishra's relative Virendra Shukla who is the Palia block head has also been arraigned as an accused.
He has been booked under Section 201 of the Indian Penal Code for a conspiracy to destroy evidence. As per sources, the SIT also submitted a pen drive and DVD to the court. This development comes as the 90-day deadline to file a chargesheet was scheduled to end on Tuesday.
Violence broke out in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri district on 3 October leading to the death of 8 persons including 4 farmers. On 17 November, the Supreme Court-appointed retired Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Rakesh Kumar Jain to monitor the investigation into the Lakhimpur violence. The apex court observed that this will help ensure "transparency, fairness and absolute impartiality" in the investigation. It also reconstituted the SIT formed by the Yogi Adityanath-led government by including three IPS officers- SB Shiradkar, Preetinder Singh and Padmaja Chauhan in the panel.
The opposition stepped up its attack on BJP after the UP SIT concluded that the Lakhimpur violence was a planned conspiracy. On December 14, the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Lakhimpur Kheri conceded to the prosecution's request adding Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and sections of the Arms Act to the FIR while dropping Sections 279, 304A and 338. The Union MoS' son Ashish Mishra along with 12 others has been arrested in connection with this case and remanded to judicial custody.
Meanwhile, a PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the registration of an FIR against Ajay Mishra in connection with this case. Farmers Tej Bahadur and Vijay Yadav, who are the petitioners, called for Mishra to be booked under Section 149 of the IPC. Claiming that the BJP MP sent his son Ashish to execute the plan of killing farmers, they contended that the former should be prosecuted for the same offence under which the 13 accused persons are currently in judicial custody. To buttress their point, they accused the Union MoS Home of threatening the farmers a few days before the incident.