As the top court described as unfortunate the incidents on October 3 in which eight people including four farmers were killed, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, which is facing heat over the violence ahead of the Assembly elections, announced it has constituted a one-member judicial commission.
Retired Allahabad High Court judge Pradeep Kumar Srivastava has been asked to complete the probe into the violence that erupted on Tikonia-Banbirpur road in Lakhimpur Kheri district within two months from the date of the notification which was issued on Wednesday. The announcement of the commission came hours before the apex court was to take up the Lakhimpur Kheri matter. A statement by the police said Luvkush of Banbirpur village and Ashish Pandey of Nighasan tehsil were arrested after questioning.
An FIR under section 302 IPC (murder) was earlier registered against Ashish Mishra and others at the Tikonia police station. A notice was also pasted at minister Ajay Mishra’s house in Lakhimpur city under section 160 of the CrPC on Thursday asking his son to present himself at 10 am on Friday at the Crime Branch office in police lines in Lakhimpur city to present any oral, written or digital evidence.
According to police, the investigations so far had named an accused and mentioned six unnamed accused. Three of them had died at the spot. Out of the remaining four, two were arrested on Thursday, a police statement said.
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in Lakhimpur Kheri when a group agitating against the Centre’s three new farm laws was holding a demonstration against the visit of UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. Two BJP workers and a driver were beaten to death allegedly by the angry protesters, while a local journalist was also killed in the violence. Farmer leaders have claimed that Ashish was in one of the cars that allegedly knocked down the protesters but his father Ajay Mishra has denied the allegations.
At the Supreme Court, a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana also sought from the UP government details of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the judicial commission. The Lakhimpur Kheri violence, which has triggered a major political storm with the opposition parties accusing the UP government of shielding the culprits, was heard as a suo motu (on its own) case.