Lakhimpur violence case: Ashish Mishra arrested after a prolonged 11-hour interrogation

Express News Service

LUCKNOW: In a late night development, Ashish Mishra, main accused of Lakhimpur violence case and son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’, was arrested by the district police after a prolonged 11-hour questioning by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of crime branch, headed by DIG Upendra Agarwal, in Lakhimpur on Saturday.

Confirming the arrest, senior police authorities, who are part of the SIT, said that Ashish was taken into custody as he was not cooperating in the investigation and was not able to answer many questions satisfactorily.

Moreover, the sources claimed that following the interrogation, the SIT recommended the district police to add some more sections of IPC in the FIR lodged against Ashish Mishra as they were not convinced enough with his side of the story about the violence which rocked the Terai district on last Sunday.

As the interrogation of Ashish Mishra continued till late Saturday evening by the six-member SIT in the Lakhimpur crime branch office, he reportedly provided videos and affidavits of 10 persons to the police authorities to prove that he was not inside the vehicle that ploughed into the group of protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri last week.

 Ashish Mishra (centre), accused in the Tikonia violence case.(Photo | PTI)

However, the police sources said that the evidence pointed towards his presence on the spot of violence on Sunday. Moreover, it was also claimed that Ashish Mishra himself was driving the Thar Mahindra SUV which ran over the group of protesting farmers.

Police sources also confirmed that Ashish could not present satisfactory proof to show that he was not in the vehicle.

Ashish Misra appeared before the Special investigation team of crime branch set up by Uttar Pradesh Police to probe into Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, on Saturday at around 10:40 am.

His interrogation began soon after as the SIT had come prepared with a 40-question list to quiz Ashish over the violence which claimed eight lives including four farmers.

The sources said that during his questioning, Ashish claimed his innocence by reiterating that he was not present at Tikunia, the site of the incident. He reportedly insisted that he was at a ‘dangal’ (wrestling competition) taking place at Banbirpur village, some 3-4 km away from Tikunia, when the violence broke out.

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However, the informed sources claimed that Ashish could not convince the probe team about his whereabouts at the time of incident.

So far, the Lakhimpur police have arrested two persons – Luvkush and Ashish Pandey—said to be the close aides of Ashish Mishra, in connection with the violence.

Ashish Mishra has been named as main accused in the FIR lodged by the farmers in connection with the Sunday violence. He along with 15-20 unidentified persons has been booked under sections pertaining to murder, criminal conspiracy, rioting, etc. in the case.

There was a huge crowd of local BJP workers at the office of the Lakhimpur police crime branch. They were shouting slogans in support of the Ashish Mishra claiming that he was innocent and was being framed in the violence case.

Ashish Mishra appeared before the police authorities in response to the second summon notice pasted by the cops at his residence on Friday asking him to appear in connection with the violence that killed eight people. In fact, the notice was served on Ashish under Section 160 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC) and he was asked to appear in person and present evidence that he is aware of the incident.

Ashish was accompanied by his counsel Awadesh Singh and Lakhimpur Sadar MLA Yogesh Verma of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Mishra was taken to a room inside the crime branch office where police personnel investigating the matter began questioning him. His counsel accompanied him during the questioning.

Ashish Mishra had failed to show up in response to the first summon notice of Thursday and missed his 10 am deadline for his appearance on Friday.

Meanwhile, the farmer unions have stepped up the pressure for the arrest of Ashish Mishra releasing a calendar of protest in October if Ashish is not arrested in the violence case. They are also demanding the resignation of the Union Minister Ajay Mishra.

While interacting with media persons on Saturday, Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesman Rakesh Tikait on Saturday said that no case should be registered against the farmers in connection with the killing of three BJP workers in Lakhimpur Kheri violence as the lynching was only a “reaction to the action”.