UP: BKU Leader, Witness in Lakhimpur Kheri Case Attacked, Third Attack in Three Months
Lucknow: Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Dilbagh Singh, a witness in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case in which the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni is accused of running over farmers, was attacked by unidentified assailants when he was returning home Tuesday evening, according to the police Wednesday.
Singh, district president of BKU - Tikait faction, said he was attacked by a group of people on Tuesday in the Lakhimpur Kheri district over his role as a witness in the case involving Ashish Mishra. The BKU leader told police that the assailants opened fire at his vehicle thrice and fled. He had a narrow escape after a bullet grazed his SUV window.
Speaking to NewsClick, Dilbagh Singh said he was returning home in his car around 9:45 pm when two bikers fired from behind on his car, following which one of the tyres got burst. After a few metres, when his car halted at a point, “The assailants attempted to open the gates and windows of the SUV. When they failed, they fired two shots at the windowpane on the driver’s side,” he said.
Singh said he was driving the SUV and was alone. Sensing the intentions of the attackers, he folded the driver’s seat and bent down towards the floor, he claimed.
As the vehicle windows were covered with dark film, the attackers could not decide the BKU leader’s status in the SUV and fled away on their bikes.
Singh said he had sent his official gunman (provided to him by the district administration) on leave owing to his son’s sudden sickness on the day.
On Singh’s complaint, First Information Report (FIR) has been lodged against unidentified assailants on charges of attempt to murder at the Gola police station in Lakhimpur Kheri.
The police have said, “Based on a complaint by Dilbagh Singh, an investigation by officers and eyewitness testimony; the incident prima facie appears to be one of road rage. The forensic teams had been sent to the spot to examine the vehicle and the crime scene and collect evidence.”
The SHO Gola, where FIR has been registered, said that they found during the preliminary inquiry that the police gunner provided to Singh for security was not present with him at the time of the incident.
When asked about the reason, he said that the gunner was on leave since his son was sick. “We would have given another security person if Singh had told us that his gunner is on leave.”
Notably, Dilbagh Singh is the third witness in the Lakhimpur Kheri case to allege an attack on him. Earlier, a witness was attacked in April, and attackers had issued threats asking him to withdraw his name from the case.
Hardeep Singh, a native of Rampur, had alleged that Mehar Singh Dayol, district general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Saranbjeet Singh, along with three others, had allegedly hit him on the face with the butt of his pistol. He sustained severe injuries.
The family had mentioned in the complaint that the attack was in retaliation to Hardeep recording his statement before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the Lakhimpur Kheri incident. Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra is named as an accused in the case.
On March 10, after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election result became clear and Bharatiya Janata Party was in a position to form the government, the supporters of Teni, the Union junior home minister, beat Diljot Singh and threatened to kill him if he did not withdraw from the murder case against Ashis.
After Diljot’s ordeal, the Supreme Court ordered the state government to provide security to Lakhimpur Kheri violence witnesses.
Meanwhile, for the last couple of months, Samyukuta Kisan Morch, along with other farmers' unions, continuously visited Lakhimpur, demanding security for the eye witness and compensation to the injured farmers.
For the unversed, eight people died in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3. After four farmers and a journalist were crushed by the convoy of the Union Minister’s son Ashish Mishra, three more, including BJP workers, were killed in violence that broke out later.
The SIT formed by the government had arrested 13 people, including Ashish Mishra, for the killing of the farmers and the journalist. In January this year, the SIT filed a charge sheet against 14, including Ashish Mishra and his uncle, Virendra Shukla. Except for Virendra Shukla, all accused are lodged in jail.
Four people have been charge-sheeted in the murder case of BJP leaders and the driver of the Thar vehicle.
Commenting on the incident, BKU spokesperson Dharmendra Malik told NewsClick, “Attacks on witnesses are happening continuously. All this is an attempt to create pressure since the bail of the key accused has been cancelled. Our delegation will reach Kheri and decide the further course of action. If the government fails to protect the witness which they have so far, Lakhimpur will witness massive farmers' protest in coming days,” Malik said.
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