The Opposition on Wednesday intensified its demand for the removal of Union minister Ajay Mishra from the Cabinet, a day after the Special Investigation Team of the Uttar Pradesh Police said in a report that the killing of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, in which his son is an accused, was planned.
Four farmers were among the eight people who were killed in the district in Uttar Pradesh in October during a protest against the agricultural laws. Farmer bodies have alleged that a vehicle belonging to Ajay Mishra’s son, Ashish Mishra, had run over protestors. Ashish Mishra has been arrested in connection with the case.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad in Kerala, sought a discussion on the Uttar Pradesh Police’s report.
“The UP police SIT [special investigation team] report has highlighted that the massacre of farmers at Lakhimpur was a pre-planned conspiracy and not a negligent act,” Gandhi said in an adjournment notice.
The Congress leader added that the Centre should immediately sack Mishra and ensure that the families of those killed in Lakhimpur Kheri get justice.
Later, Gandhi told ANI that they wanted a discussion in Parliament, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused.
“Depending on how much pressure we put, action will be taken [by the government],” he said. “We will ensure that this criminal who is a minister [resigns] and justice is served to families. We had said that farm laws will be taken back, everybody put pressure and farm laws were withdrawn.”
Congress MP Manickam Tagore also gave an adjournment motion notice in the Lok Sabha to discuss the Special Investigation Team report and to direct the Centre to “expedite legal actions against the culprit”, reported ANI.
In the Rajya Sabha, Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita Dev said that the involvement of the son of the minister of state for home in the Lakhimpur Kheri case “dampens the chances of a fair trial”.
She added, “The incident also maligns the post of a Union minister.”
Congress MP Deepender Singh Hooda also moved an adjournment motion notice in the Upper House.
The Bharatiya Janata Party rejected the Opposition’s demand to remove Ajay Mishra, calling the allegations unfounded, reported PTI. The party also did not hold discussion on the matter, saying that the case was being heard by a court.
“Parliamentary rules dictate that a sub-judice matter is not discussed [in Parliament],” Leader of Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal told reporters.
Goyal said that the Lok Sabha was to take up matter of price rise and the Rajya Sabha was to discuss the Covid-19 situation following the outbreak of the Omicron variant. But, Opposition protests led to adjournments in both the Houses, he said.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi ruled out curtailing the ongoing session, reported PTI. The Winter Session is scheduled to conclude on December 23.
“It is strange that the Opposition sought discussion on serious issues such as price rise and on the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, but they ran away at the time of discussion,” Joshi told reporters outside Parliament. “It seems the Opposition has nothing to say on these issues, they are just busy in “spreading rumours” about the curtailment of the session.”
Besides Ashish Mishra, 12 people have been arrested in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri case. They are facing charges of criminal conspiracy and murder.
On Tuesday, the Uttar Pradesh Police moved an application before a local court, seeking to add charges of attempt to murder (Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code) and “voluntarily causing grievous hurt” (Section 326) as well as sections of the Arms Act to the chargesheet filed against the accused persons, The Indian Express reported.
The Special Investigation Team, that is conducting an inquiry into the case, sought to add these charges as it found that the deaths in Lakhimpur Kheri did not take place because of negligence but “there was a deliberate and planned conspiracy with intention to kill”, Senior Prosecuting Officer SP Yadav told the newspaper.
Chief Judicial Magistrate Chinta Ram allowed the police to invoke those charges against the accused persons, Yadav added.