Stepping up pressure over the Lakhimpur incident, a Congress delegation led by Rahul Gandhi met President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday and urged him to ensure the immediate sacking of Union Minister Ajay Mishra and an impartial judicial probe by two sitting judges of the Supreme Court. Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra, who has been named in an FIR, was arrested on Saturday by the Uttar Pradesh Police in connection with the mowing down of four farmers on October 3 in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. "There cannot be an impartial inquiry and justice cannot be given till the time the MoS Home is sacked. "This is the voice of not just the families of those killed but also of all the farmers and this voice is being suppressed," Gandhi said after the Congress leaders presented a memorandum to the President.
The former Congress chief demanded that to ensure justice, two sitting Supreme Court judges should probe the incident. "After the crime, when the government and administration do injustice, then it is necessary to raise one's voice.
"We have two demands in the injustice in Lakhimpur case - a fair judicial inquiry and immediate dismissal of the Minister of State for Home, to ensure that justice is done," he later tweeted in Hindi.
The Congress delegation included A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Asked whether they have received any assurances from the president, Priyanka Gandhi claimed, "He (President) has assured us that he will talk to to the government in this regard today itself".
She also said that the families wanted justice and have demanded that sitting judges should hold an impartial probe. She also said that till the time the union minister is not sacked, there cannot be any justice.
"I feel this is not just the demand of the families of those farmers killed, but of entire Uttar Pradesh and all the right thinking people. The voice of justice should never die in the country, but the government is giving a message that if one is poor, farmer or weak then one will not get justice," she said.
The Lakhimpur incident has triggered a major political storm and put the BJP on the back foot ahead of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP has maintained that the law will take its course and the guilty will be published.
The Congress memorandum claimed the situation is unlikely to change without any intervention given that BJP leaders, including UP CM Yogi Adityanath, continue to make "conciliatory statements" towards Ajay Mishra.
"Ajay Mishra's role is also yet to be investigated and the same is unlikely while he continues in office. Furthermore, which police official would dare to fairly investigate the son of Union MoS Home Affairs with the father occupying a position of such high influence and who enjoys continued endorsements from both the Central and the State governments.
"In these difficult circumstances, we call upon you as the custodian of our Constitution and the moral compass to this Government to immediately dismiss Union MoS Home Affairs and to direct an independent judicial investigation by a Commission comprising of two sitting judges of the Supreme Court of India or the high court," the memorandum said.
The party hoped that the President will treat this matter with the urgency it deserves and take appropriate action.
The Congress memorandum also mentions that like crores of other Indians, the President is also "deeply affected" by the "unforgivable and merciless murder" of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri.
"The incident has scarred the soul of India. This deliberate act of murder, in broad daylight followed by the audacious reactions of the state and central governments, has completely eroded the people's faith in those tasked with bringing these perpetrators to justice," the party said.
Two BJP workers and a driver of the minister were allegedly lynched after the mowing down of the farmers. A journalist was also killed in the violence.
Besides Ashish Mishra, five other persons have been arrested till Wednesday evening in the case.