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“Only words, no action”: SC rebukes Yogi govt on Lakhimpur Kheri farmers’ killing

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Showing its dissatisfaction over Yogi Adityanath government’s incapability of handling the Lakhimpur violence case- in which a minister’s son is also involved, the Supreme Court on Friday slammed  the UP government saying law must take its course against “whoever is involved” and that “We are not satisfied with the action so far,” the court said.

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“What is the message that you are sending? Even in normal circumstances… will the police not go immediately and arrest the accused. Things have not proceeded the way they should have. It appears to be only words and not actions,” Chief Justice NV Ramana said in a sharp rebuke. Lawyer Harish Salve, representing the UP government, admitted, “I agree that enough has not been done.”

Notably, Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son, Ashish, is an accused in the murder case. Farmers in their FIR said that he drove into a gathering of demonstrators amid a peaceful black flag protest on Sunday – in which eight were killed, including four farmers. He is yet to be arrested as he is absconding, also he skipped the court summon for questioning today on Friday. He has been summoned twice amid allegations he is being shielded. 

“Treat the accused the same way we treat other persons in other cases,” the Chief Justice said today.

“Hear the matter after court reopens. If there is not enough progress by then then transfer to CBI,” Mr Salve told the court.

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To this, the Chief Justice replied, “Mr Salve we have respect for you. We hope the state will take necessary steps. Due to the sensitivity of the issue, we are not making comments. CBI is not a solution, for reasons known to you… because of the persons… better some other person looks into (this), We will take up the issue after courts reopen (post Dussehra). The authorities must act.”

The state government – which was questioned on Thursday about the arrests in the case – submitted a status report today, underlining that it “is taking all steps to ensure a free and fair investigation.” Two people have been arrested in the case, the court was told.

Calling the Lakhimpur violence “extremely unfortunate”, the UP government said, “another FIR (has been filed) on allegations that the protesting and rioting farmers killed four persons.” Families of the farmers who died have been given ₹ 45 lakh by the state government, the report said.

“We have seen the details of the SIT (Special Investigation Team). You have DIG, Superintendent of Police, circle officers. All these are local people. This is what happens when all are local people,” the Chief Justice said today.

On the death of a farmer, who protesters have alleged was shot during the violence, Mr Salve today told the court: “Post-mortem did not show any bullet wounds. The manner in which the car was driven the allegations are true. It is possibly 302 (section of murder).”

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Chief Justice Ramana said, “We expect responsible government and police. The allegations are very serious including gunshot injuries. Section 302(section of murder). Will (the) accused not be treated the same way?” When Justice Hima Kohli asked Mr Salve: “Possibly?”, he replied, “I said possibly because I don’t want the accused to say tomorrow that I made up my mind even before he appeared. Evidence is strong. If evidence is true then its section 302.”

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