Lakhimpur: SIT inquiry is mere eyewash, says journalist's uncle
The special investigation team probing the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre sent Union minister’s son and prime accused Ashis Mishra back to jail custody on Thursday evening although his police remand expired only on Friday morning.
“We know we shall never get justice,” said Ashok Kashyap, uncle of journalist Raman Kashyap who was killed with four farmers on October 3 when a Thar jeep, allegedly driven by Ashis, ploughed into a farmers’ protest at Tikunia, Lakhimpur Kheri.
“The SIT inquiry is mere eyewash. The government is buying time so that people forget about the incident,” Ashok added.
A local court had given the SIT custody of Ashis, son of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni, for three days from 10am Tuesday. The SIT, which had demanded 14 days’ custody, was widely expected to seek an extension of the three-day remand. Instead, it gave up custody of Ashis prematurely.
While in SIT custody, Ashis, also known as Monu, persistently denied being in the Thar, police sources said. His judicial (jail) remand expires on October 23.
A police source in Lucknow, however, said: “One of Monu’s associates in police
custody has already said the minister’s son was driving the Thar. The SIT didn’t need to keep Monu after the reconstruction of the scene on Thursday.”
On Saturday, Teni made his first public appearance in Lakhimpur Kheri after the massacre, attending a government programme at the district hospital to celebrate the installation of new medical equipment.
Lens on councillor
The SIT visited the home of Lakhimpur Kheri BJP councillor Sumit Jaiswal Modi, a suspect, on Saturday — 13 days after the massacre. But Sumit was not at home.
For five days after the carnage, Sumit had freely given interviews to news channels and newspapers. He had claimed Ashis was not in the Thar but he himself was in the car, sitting beside the driver.
A video had surfaced a day after the incident showing a man in a sky blue kurta and white pyjamas stepping out of the Thar and running away. Sumit later told the media he was the man seen fleeing.
“I ran away to save my life as the farmers would have killed me,” he had said.
He had claimed the farmers had attacked the jeep, causing it to run over some people accidentally. Two days after the carnage, Sumit had registered an FIR against unidentified farmers for lynching the minister’s driver Hari Om and two BJP workers who were in the convoy.
It’s not clear why the SIT had not shown any interest in Sumit till now.
The Lucknow source declined to say whether Sumit had gone into hiding. “He was not at home. The SIT will send him a summons soon,” he said.
So far, the SIT has arrested Ashis, his associates Ashish Pandey and Luv Kush Rana, his friend Ankit Das (owner of a Fortuner that was behind the Thar and allegedly ran over some people), Shekhar Bharati (Ankit’s friend who was allegedly driving the Fortuner) and Mohammad Latif (Ankit’s personal security officer).
On Friday, the SIT had taken Ankit to a Lucknow hotel where police say he had put up for a day after allegedly fleeing the massacre spot. He had then allegedly sneaked into Nepal. Police sources said Ankit’s licensed gun and pistol were recovered from the hotel.
Ankit had reported at the SIT office in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 13 and was arrested after daylong interrogation.
“Ankit was taken to a hotel in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar locality to verify whether he was speaking the truth and find out who were with him. We believe the inquiry is going in the right direction,” the Lucknow officer said.