Union minister Ajay Mishra on Sunday blamed the Uttar Pradesh Police for the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri earlier this month, The Times of India reported. He accused them of negligence.
Ajay Mishra’s son, Ashish Mishra, is an accused in the violence case. He had been arrested last Saturday.
Eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3 during a protest against the three farm laws. Four of them were farmers. Farmer organisations have alleged that a vehicle belonging to the minister ran over them.
The four others killed in Lakhimpur were BJP workers Shubham Mishra and Shyam Sunder Nishad, Hari Om Mishra, the driver of a car in Ajay Mishra’s convoy, and journalist Raman Kashyap.
On Sunday, a prayer meet was held for the BJP workers and the driver, which Mishra also attended. The minister alleged that the police had allowed the protesting farmers to take over a road. “Then the route was not barricaded by the police,” he claimed.
“Shyam Sundar Nishad, one of the workers, was alive with police and had reached an ambulance but [he] was dragged out and killed,” the minister said, according to the newspaper. “The guilty cops will not be spared and the government will conduct a probe against them. The government has given a free hand to the investigating agency.”
Mishra said that the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri showed that the police and the administration were both negligent, The Times of India reported.
The police refuted the minister’s accusation. “We had barricaded the road from both sides and provided protestors a different route,” an unidentified official told the newspaper.
The official added that the minister’s convoy sped past the barricades despite instructions to slow down. “A normal person doesn’t drive so fast in a busy market,” the official said. “There were many farmers on the road. Barricades are normally set up for vehicles to slow down, but [in this case] the convoy didn’t pay heed.”
Farmer bodies and Opposition parties have demanded that Mishra be sacked from the Union Cabinet. They have said that an impartial investigation into the matter will not be possible if Ajay Mishra continues to be a Union minister.
On Monday, farmer union held “rail roko” protests in several parts of the country to demand Mishra’s dismissal.