Lakhimpur Kheri, UP:
Ashish Mishra, Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son and the main accused in the killing of protesting farmers in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri last year, has been released from jail.
He left prison via the back gate in an SUV.
Ashish Mishra’s lawyer, Avdesh Kumar Singh, said the court had demanded two sureties of Rs 3 lakh each but imposed no restrictions on him leaving the city.
He was granted bail last week by the Allahabad High Court, after lower courts rejected requests.
In a controversial order, the court had questioned some of the charges listed by the police, including firing at protesters.”…during the course of investigation, no such firearm injuries were found either on the body of any of the deceased or on the body of any injured person,” the court said.
The court also questioned police claims Ashish incited the driver of the SUV to run over the farmers.
Ashish Mishra, the court further said, appeared before the investigating officers when summoned (he’d originally skipped summons) and a charge sheet had been filed.
“In such circumstances, this court is of the view the applicant is entitled to bail,” the court said.
Bail for Ashish Mishra triggered furious reactions from farmers and opposition leaders.
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait told NDTV today the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions who fought against the farm laws, will file an appeal in the Supreme Court “soon”.
Farmers have claimed police were pressured to weaken the case and this led to Ashish Mishra’s bail.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary have both also hit out, as has Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, and alleged that the ruling BJP is protecting its own.
Ashish Mishra’s release comes as BJP-ruled UP votes in a seven-phase Assembly election. Two phases are over. The third is on Sunday. Lakhimpur votes in the fourth phase – on February 23.
On October 3, Ashish Mishra was allegedly driving a Mahindra Thar that ran over four farmers and a journalist at Lakhimpur Kheri during a protest march against three (since scrapped) farm laws.
He was arrested only days later – after the Supreme Court’s intervention.
Videos showing the car ramming into farmers were widely circulated, triggering anger and fierce criticism of the BJP, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his government, and also PM Modi.
Eight people were killed that day, including two BJP workers who died in the violence that followed.
As farmers’ anger became a big worry for the BJP (particularly with elections looming) PM Modi announced the withdrawal of the farm laws in November, ending an 11-month protest.