Police report nails minister's son

Union minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra alias Monu was allegedly in the car that mowed down protesting farmers and he also opened fire at them, according to a First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police.

The FIR, lodged on a complaint by Bahraich district native Jagjit Singh, also mentions that the episode was "premeditated" and the "conspiracy was hatched" by the minister and his son. It also alleged that "provocative" statements by the Union minister of state for home led to the farmers' protest in Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday during which violence erupted and claimed the lives of eight people.

The FIR said the farmers had gathered at the sports ground of the Maharaja Agrasen Inter-College as they wanted to peacefully show black flags to Minister Mishra and Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya who were visiting Banbirpur village.

"Around 3pm, Ashish Mishra along with 15-20 armed men in three speeding four-wheelers reached the protest spot in Banbirpur. Monu opened gunfire while he was seated on the left side of his Mahindra Thar (vehicle), which mowed down the crowd and sped ahead," said the FIR, which was seen by a Press Trust of India reporter.

"Because of the firing, farmer Gurvinder Singh, a resident of Matronia in Nanpara, died... Ashish's speeding vehicle overturned on the side of the road, leading to injuries to several other people. Ashish Mishra escaped from the car, opened fire and hid in a sugarcane field."

While Ashish and about 20 unnamed persons were mentioned as accused and charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, rash driving and rioting, his father was not named in the FIR.

The Union minister has refuted the allegations of his son's involvement in the episode that took place near his native Banbirpur village.

Four farmers were killed after they were allegedly mowed down by the vehicles that led Ashish's convoy.

Four other people were later lynched by a mob.

Local news reports identified three of those killed by the mob as members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the fourth as a freelance journalist working for a TV news network that is sympathetic to the ruling party. No arrest has been made in the case.

"The farmers had gathered to lodge their protest after a video went viral in which the Union minister made comments during a public meeting and threatened to chase out the farmers from the state, prior to the (October 3) incident," the FIR said.

"The minister's son committed the act in a display of hooliganism. The Central government also did not take any action against the Union minister in the wake of the viral video and today (October 3) his son carried out the gruesome act."

The Union minister's claim that his vehicle was attacked by miscreants before the driver lost control and mowed down farmers also stood exposed on Wednesday after a video clip which surfaced clearly revealed what happened on Sunday.

It shows a black sport utility vehicle - which belongs to the Union minister according to his own admission - ploughing into an unarmed group of protesters at great speed.

There are no signs of any attack on the Mahindra Thar vehicle.

According to witnesses, it was after this incident, that an enraged mob attacked the cars, set them on fire and four people in the convoy were beaten to death.

Ashish claimed on Tuesday that the allegations against him are baseless and that he was not present at the scene of the incident.

He aid that he was actually attending an event at Banbirpur at the time of the incident.

"Our three vehicles went to receive Deputy Chief Minister for an event. On their way, some miscreants pelted stones, set cars on fire and killed our four workers by thrashing them with sticks. Had I been there, they wouldn't have left me alive," he said.

According to legal experts, the FIR has been lodged under the stringent sections of the Indian Penal Code, demanding immediate arrest of the accused. The sections levelled against Ashish are non-bailable.

The police said they are investigating whether Ashish was in the car that struck the protesters.

"None of the criminals will be spared," top Uttar Pradesh police officer Prashant Kumar said at a news conference on Monday. "Arrests will follow soon."

The incident has injected fresh political vitriol into the farmers' protests that have plagued New Delhi and the surrounding regions since late November.

Indo-Asian News Service

"Monu (Union minister Ajay Mishra's son, below) opened gunfire while he was seated on the left side of his Mahindra Thar (vehicle), which mowed down the crowd and sped ahead."

- First Information Report filed by the Uttar Pradesh police


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