Lucknow: A day after the Uttar Pradesh (UP) police arrested two close aides of Union minister of state for home affairs and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Ajay Kumar Mishra’s son Ashish, alias Monu, and asked him to appear before the Crime Branch Office at the Reserve Police Lines in Lakhimpur Kheri at 10 am on Friday in the connection with Sunday’s violence, the minister’s son skipped questioning, the police said.
The Lakhimpur police have issued a fresh notice to Ashish asking him to appear before them at 11 am on Saturday. The second notice, which was pasted on the wall of Ajay Mishra’s house on Friday afternoon, warned of legal action if Ashish fails to appear before the investigators on Saturday.
According to news agency PTI, the minister claimed on Friday that his son is “innocent” and said that he will appear before the police on Saturday. “We have full faith in the law. My son is innocent. He got a notice on Thursday, but he said he was not well. He will appear before the police tomorrow and give his statement and evidence as he is innocent,” Mishra was quoted as saying by PTI.
Deputy inspector general (headquarters) Upendra Agarwal, who is heading the probe team, waited for Ashish at the Police Lines till mid-afternoon, a police officer told Newsclick. “Ashish Mishra had not appeared for questioning till 3 pm despite being summoned by the police to appear today,” he said.
According to the intelligence department, Ashish in untraceable, indicating that he is continuously changing location despite several state police teams searching for him. However, locals alleged that Ashish might have fled to neighbouring Nepal, which is barely 10-15 km from Tikonia, where the violence occurred.
The police had pasted a notice outside the minister’s house on Thursday night asking his son to appear for questioning after the state government was severely criticised for not taking action against him following the surfacing of a video showing one of his SUVs mowing down farmers. Eight persons were killed in the violence that followed.
According to the notice, issued under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which relates to summoning to witness, Ashish must appear in person and present evidence that he is aware of the incident.
TWO ARRESTED, INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
The two arrested men, identified as Luvkush, of Banburpur, Mishra’s native village, and Ashish Panday, of Nighasan tehsil, are among the seven people mentioned in the first information report lodged by police. On Friday, the two accused were produced before a Lakhimpur court that sent them to 14-day judicial custody.
The arrests came on a day when the Supreme Court termed the Lakhimpur Kheri incident “unfortunate” and had sought a status report from the UP police on Friday. The court specifically asked the UP police to specify the accused named in the FIR have been arrested. Within hours, the UP police announced the arrests.
According to the police, the investigation has so far named an accused and mentioned six other unnamed accused. Three of them died on the spot, the police said, adding that out of the remaining four, two were arrested on Thursday. Based on the statements of Luvkush and Pandey, the Lakhimpur Kheri police are also searching for Sumit Jaiswal and Ashish.
A forensic team found two .315 cartridges at the site of the violence. “The site was meticulously searched with a metal detector,” a police officer said.
On Friday, the apex court expressed dissatisfaction with the investigation. After the UP government filed the status report in the case, the apex court said: “The highest police officer must protect the evidence in the case. Why wasn’t the accused arrested immediately? Why are they not treated like any other citizen? The local police have not done the job properly.” The court, which posted the matter for hearing immediately after the Dussehra vacation, 10.30 am on October 20, said that the delay in arresting Ashish is sending a “wrong message”.