Express News Service
LUCKNOW: Ashish Mishra, main accused of Lakhimpur violence case and MoS Ajay Mishra Teni’s son, who was arrested by the UP Police following 12-hour interrogation and subsequently sent to 14-day judicial remand past Saturday midnight, repeated the stand taken by him and his father all this long that he was not present at the spot of the incident.
However, the police authorities claimed that they had evidence to show his presence at the spot. Ashish, 35, the younger son of Teni, is accused of crushing four farmers under his SUV Thar Mahindra while they were protesting against the visit of UP deputy CM Keshav Maurya in Lakhimpur Kheri last Sunday.
DIG Upendra Agarwal, heading the six-member SIT probing into the case, had claimed that Ashish was arrested as he was “non-cooperative and evasive in his replies” during interrogation.
Ashish will be produced before a local court on Monday when the SIT will seek his police remand for custodial interrogation to reach the bottom of the reasons which led to the violence that claimed total eight lives on the fateful day. As per the informed sources, the SIT was prepared with around 45-48 questions to interrogate Ashish, who is now lodged in barrack number 21 of Lakhimpur Kheri district jail.
Ashish, named in the FIR over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, has been booked along with 15-20 unidentified persons under Sections 302, 304-A, 120-B, 147, 279 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) amounting to murder, criminal conspiracy, rioting, etc.
Sources claimed that the basic question over which Ashish Misra failed to furnish evidence was related to his whereabouts between 2:36 pm to 3:30 pm (the time of the incident) on October 3.
Ashish kept repeating that he was attending the ‘dangal’ at his ancestral village Banbirpur in that duration. He even furnished over a dozen videos and affidavit of 10 persons to corroborate his claim but failed to impress the SIT.
Other questions posed to Ashish during his interrogation pertained to the number of vehicles in the fleet, firearms he was carrying and reasons for going underground, etc.
When asked how many vehicles were there in his fleet an eyewitness claimed that he was in one of the vehicles at the spot during the violence. To this, Ashish gave the same mugged-up reply that he didn’t know as he was at the ‘Dangal’.
When he was asked as to how many people sitting in his vehicle which ran over the protestors, Ashish said driver Hari Om was in the driver’s seat. “Rest I have no idea as I was in dangal,” Ashish reportedly replied.
When he was asked that who did the vehicle belong in which he was present, Ashish reportedly got irked saying that to every such query his reply would be the same that he was present in none of the vehicles but Thar Mahindra belonged to him.
Then the SIT tweaked the same question asking him about the seat on which he was sitting in the vehicle and who was the driver. To this, Ashish said he did not know as he was not the vehicle.
To a question about the magnitude of the crowd at the spot of violence, Ashish reportedly said that if the question would be asked to him a thousand times, hisvreply would be the same that he did not know as he was not present at the spot. “I got to know about the incident later,” he reportedly said.
To a question as to why he did not stop the vehicle when he was passing through a crowd and the first persons collided with the vehicle, Ashish said since he was not present in the vehicle, he couldn’t answer it. He said did not know the circumstances in which the driver did not stop the SUV.
His non-cooperation came to the fore when he was questioned about the licensed arms he was carrying and others also accompanying him. To this, Ashish allegedly remained non-committal.
After a long interrogation, Ashish Mishra couldn’t prove where the cartridge received by the police from his vehicle, came from.
When the SIT talked about the videos doing rounds on social media proving his presence on the spot, Ashish rejected them saying that apart from the videos he had, all others were fake. “I was not present at the site of the incident,” he allegedly said.
When the SIT confronted him on the veracity of the videos he had produced, Ashish’s reply was that the authorities should get a forensic test done as they all were genuine.
To a question pertaining to being elusive even after the FIR and first police summon, Ashish said that he was in Delhi and was talking to media channels. He added that he did not get the information about the first summon in time and he was not well either. As soon as he got to know about the second summon, he appeared before the SIT, he claimed.
When the interrogators asked him why he should be believed as he had not cooperated enough in replying to their queries, Ashish said that he had appeared before the interrogators as soon as he came to know about the summon notice. “I will cooperate in the investigation when needed. I am not a criminal. I am the son of a political leader and I run my own business,” he reportedly said.
However, so far, the UP police have arrested three persons including Ashish Mishra in connection with the Lakhimpur violence. Search for others including Ashish’s close aides –Ankit Das and Sumit Jaiswal –is on.
The Fortuner, another SUV, being referred to be a part of the killer fleet of vehicles, is owned by Ankit. However, Sumit Jaiswal, a local, is the person who had done the cross FIR against the farmers for lynching a driver and two BJP workers.