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Lakhimpur Kheri offence ‘Grave’ but accused Ashish Mishra ‘not a flight risk’,: UP govt tells SC

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

Lucknow: Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, accused of running over farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, is “not a flight risk”, the Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court today, April 4, on a petition challenging his bail.

Also Read :- Lakhimpur farmers' killing: Police submits 5,000-page chargesheet against Minister's son, others

The Uttar Pradesh government, represented by Mahesh Jethmalani, was responding to a petition by families of the farmers killed in the October 3, 2021 violence, challenging the bail granted to Mishra by the Allahabad High Court.

Asserting that the offence is “grave”, the state government told the court that “no words are enough” to condemn it. It also argued that it had “vehemently” opposed the bail in the high court.

However, Ashish Mishra is not a flight risk and security has been provided to the witnesses, the Uttar Pradesh government submitted. The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order in the appeal after a Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli heard the matter at length.

“How can the judge go into postmortem report etc. We are hearing a bail matter, we do not want to prolong.This way of going into merits and going into wounds etc. is unnecessary for the question of bail,” the bench observed.

Senior advocate Dushayant Dave and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the farmers, sought cancellation of the bail alleging that the high court overlooked the probe report and went by the FIR while granting the relief to the accused.

The state government though termed the offence grave and said that all the witnesses have been granted protection.

On March 16, the top court had sought responses of the Uttar Pradesh government and Ashish Mishra, on a plea challenging the grant of bail to him.

It had also directed the state government to ensure protection of witnesses after the counsel, appearing for farmers, referred to the attack on a key witness on March 10.

On October 3 last year, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri during violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.

Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV, in which Ashish Mishra was seated, according to the UP Police FIR. Following the incident, the driver and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers.

A journalist also died in the violence that triggered outrage among opposition parties and farmer groups agitating over the Centre’s now-repealed agricultural reform laws.

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