The Allahabad High Court on Monday said that the Lakhimpur Kheri violence could have been averted if Union Minister Ajay Mishra had not threatened local farmers, Bar and Bench reported.
On September 25, a video of Ajay Kumar Mishra in which he could be heard telling farmers that he would “discipline them” had gone viral on social media. “Mend your ways otherwise we will make you mend them,” he had said. “It will take only two minutes.”
Mishra had claimed that he was being misunderstood as only part of the video clip was played by the media.
Farmers bodies have claimed that on October 3, a vehicle belonging to Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra, had run over eight persons, including four farmers, during a protest in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district. The demonstrations were held against the now-repealed three farm laws.
Ashish Mishra is the prime accused in the case. He is currently lodged in Lakhimpur prison after his bail was cancelled by the Supreme Court.
During Monday’s hearing, the High Court said that political leaders should make public statements using decent language.
“Several innocent lives would not have got lost in a most cruel, diabolic, barbaric, gruesome and inhuman manner allegedly by his very promising son and other accused,” Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh said, according to The Hindu. “Political persons holding high offices, should make public utterances in a decent language considering its repercussions in the society.”
Singh made the observation while denying bail to four co-accused – Sumit Jaiswal, Ankit Das, Shishpal and Lavkush – in the case. Das is the grandson of the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Babu Banarasi Das.
The court also took note that a wrestling competition was organised by Ashish Mishra on the day of the Lakhimpur violence despite a curfew being imposed in the area.
“The lawmakers cannot be seen to be law violaters,” the court said, according to The Hindu. “This court cannot believe that it would not have been within the knowledge of the Deputy Chief Minister of the State [Keshav Prasad Maurya] that in the area provisions of Section 144 CrPC [The Code of Criminal Procedure] were clamped and any assembly or gathering was prohibited.”
Maurya had attended the competition.