The Supreme Court said that it was "not satisfied" with the Uttar Pradesh government's steps in the “brutal” killing of eight people in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. The top court pulled up the state police and asked them whether issuing summons and asking "please come" would be the way the accused are treated in other murder cases.
"The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana told the UP government, and sharply questioned why Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra, an accused in the case, has not been arrested yet.
UP Police issue second summon to Ashish Mishra
The Uttar Pradesh Police on Friday issued a fresh notice to Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son, Ashish Mishra asking him to appear before the investigators on Saturday at 11:00 am in connection with violence in Lakhimpur Kheri that killed eight people, including five farmers.
The top court questioned the soft approach of the police towards the accused (Ashish Mishra) named in the FIR after Harish Salve, appearing for the UP government, said a notice seeking his presence has been sent and that he has sought some time.
The latest notice, which was pasted on the wall of Ajay Mishra's house on Friday afternoon after the minister's son skipped Friday's notice, warned that legal action will be initiated against him if he fails to appear before the investigators on Saturday.
"My son was summoned yesterday but due to health reasons, he could not report to the police. He will report tomorrow," says Union Minister of State (Home) Ajay Mishra Teni on his son Ashish Mishra not reporting on Friday.
“He was to come today and he has asked for time. We have asked him to show up at 11 am tomorrow. If he does not appear tomorrow the rigour of the law will be brought into play against him,” Harish Salve said. Salve at the same time conceded that not enough has been done by the authorities.
Is this the same way you treat other murder accused?: SC
"Is it the same way we treat other accused in other cases also? We send notice and say please come, please stay..,” the bench quipped. Salve said he asked the same thing to them and they said the post mortem report did not show any bullet wound that is why, they gave him a notice for appearance under the CrPC and if the bullet wound have been there, then the course would have been different.
Salve urged the bench to take up the case again on October 18 and assured that by that time, the actions would be taken and as per his instructions, “needful will be done latest by tomorrow morning.”
The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, hoped that the state government will take “necessary steps because of the sensitivity of the issue”.
CBI isn't the solution, says SC
The bench then inquired whether any request had been made by the state government to hand over the case to the CBI. Salve said no such request has been made and this aspect can be dealt with by the court. "Please have this on reopening. If you are not satisfied with the progress, hand it over to CBI”.
The bench, however, again said a CBI probe was not the solution. It also raised objections to the continuance of the present lot of officers with the probe and said that “because of their conduct we do not see that good investigation will take place”.
Second thing is that they should not “completely destroy” the evidence available, the bench orally observed, adding that “by the time some investigative agency takes the case, please tell the DGP to take care of all necessary steps to protect the evidence". The top court then posted the matter for further hearing on October 20
Leaders form beeline
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday began a fast in UP's Lakhimpur Kheri, declaring that he will continue it till Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son is not arrested. He met the kin of the farmers killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, a day after he was detained along with Punjab Congress leaders in Saharanpur.
Sidhu, who met the family of 28-year-old journalist Raman Kashyap, one of the eight people killed in the violence, proceeded on a fast and could be seen lying on a cot at the scribe’s house in Lakhimpur Kheri. Sources said Sidhu is also observing a "maun vrat" (silent fast).
Punjab Cabinet Minister Vijay Inder Singla, who is among the Congress leaders from Punjab accompanying Sidhu, said they too will sit on a fast with him. Sidhu had earlier demanded the arrest of the minister's son, saying he would go on hunger strike if action is not taken against him by Friday.
Earlier in the day, a delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Harsimrat Kaur Badal met the families of the farmers and the journalist.
Badal, a former Union minister, demanded immediate dismissal of Ajay Mishra besides the arrest of his son, a party statement said here.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal was accompanied by senior party leaders Balwinder Singh Bhundur, Prem Singh Chandumajra, Bikram Singh Majithia, Manpreet Singh Ayali and SGPC chief Jagir Kaur.
"The video footage of Ashish Mishra's vehicle is available. There are eyewitness accounts that Ashish Mishra fled from the scene. He should be arrested on murder charges immediately," said Badal.
Similarly, there was video footage of the Union minister allegedly threatening farmers and even inciting violence against them, she alleged. "It is wrong to keep him in the Union cabinet and the central government should take immediate action against him," she added.
(With inputs from agencies)