Lakhimpur violence: Court allows SIT to replace lesser charges with ‘attempt to murder’


A court in Lakhimpur Kheri on Tuesday allowed the Special Investigations Team (SIT) probing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence to replace lesser charges in the case like causing death by negligence with attempt to murder, after the inquiry team said it was a “pre-planned conspiracy”.

“Chief judicial magistrate Chinta Ram allowed the special investigators to add IPC sections 307, 326 and sections 3/25/30 read with section 35 of the Arms Act against 13 accused of FIR number 219 in which MoS Home Ajay Kumar Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra, alias Monu, is the main accused,” senior prosecution officer S.P. Yadav said. “After hearing the arguments of the prosecution and the defence counsels on Tuesday, the magistrate also allowed to drop section 279, 338 and 304A of the IPC against the accused,” he said. On Tuesday, all 13 accused in the Tikunia violence case were produced in the court of the chief judicial magistrate and hearing on the application took place. Earlier, The SIT probing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence has said that the incident was a “pre-planned conspiracy”, a “deliberate act, and not of negligence or callousness”, and has demanded that the 13 arrested accused, including Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish, be charged with attempt to murder. Following the observations of the SIT probe team, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday demanded that the Centre speed up the probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and said that the Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra should be sacked with immediate effect.

On 3 October, eight people, including four protesting farmers, died after being mowed down by a SUV belonging to Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish Mishra. A local journalist was also killed in the violence. Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish, who is in jail, is the main accused. Ashish Mishra and others are already facing murder and conspiracy charges. The Special Investigation Team wants “attempt to murder” and other charges added.

The SIT has filed an application before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) to include new sections against the 13 accused to make their offence punishable under attempt to murder charges. Vidhyaram Diwakar, the SIT investigating officer, filed the application last week in the CJM’s court for adding new sections in the warrant, replacing sections 279, 338 and 304A of the IPC. In his application, the investigating officer pointed out that the incident was “well-planned and a deliberate act, and not of negligence or callousness”.

The investigating officer has requested to add Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code after replacing sections 279 (Rash driving or riding on a public way), 338 (Whoever causes grievous hurt to any person by doing any act so rashly or negligently) and 304A (Causing death by negligence) of the IPC.

The SIT has so far arrested Ashish Mishra, Luvkush, Ashish Pandey, Shekhar Bharti, Ankit Das, Latif, Sishupal, Nandan Singh, Satyam Tripathi, Sumit Jaiswal, Dharmendra Banjara, Rinku Rana and Ullas Trivedi. They are lodged in the Lakhimpur Kheri district jail. Meanwhile, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court has given two weeks’ time to the state government to file a counter-affidavit on Ashish Mishra’s bail application. During the hearing of the case, additional advocate general Vinod Shahi apprised the court about the ongoing investigation. Shahi said that statements of a large number of witnesses were still to be recorded. Earlier on 17 November, the Supreme Court appointed Rakesh Kumar Jain, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to monitor the investigation in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case to ensure transparency, fairness, and absolute impartiality. The apex court had reconstituted the SIT and named three senior IPS officers, S.B. Shirodkar, Deepinder Singh and Padmaja Chauhan in it.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra issued a press statement today in the matter. She said, “Two months after the Lakhimpur farmer massacre, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) says that the son of Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni, namely Ashish and the other accused did not commit the criminal act out of negligence and neglect, but did it deliberately with the intention of killing them according to a pre-planned plan.” “In this case, the farmers said from the very beginning, that the son of the Minister of State for Home had conspired to carry out this incident. The Supreme Court had also expressed concern over ensuring a fair and thorough investigation into the incident and expressed displeasure over the slow pace of investigation and the manner of investigation,” she said. The Congress leader claimed that the SIT admitted that the Lakhimpur farmer massacre was done with a plan. “Then why are the PM and the Home Minister protecting the Minister of State for Home Affairs?” she questioned.