Lakhimpur Kheri: Supreme Court directs UP govt to give security to witnesses

A total of eight people including four farmers and one journalist were killed on October 3 in Lakhimpur Kheri.

The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to grant protection to witnesses in the case involving farmers run over in Lakhimpur Kheri earlier this month, by Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra.

The apex court, in its order on Tuesday, directed the UP government to record statements of more witnesses, repeatedly asking why there were so few when thousands were supposedly present at the spot at the time.

During the hearing, the Uttar Pradesh government told the court that 164 statements of 30 people, out of which 23 are eyewitnesses, have been recorded so far.

Chief Justice NV Ramana asked: “A huge rally of farmers and only 23 eyewitnesses?” Justice Surya Kant pointed out that there would have been some 4-5,000 people at the protest.

“Ask your agency to see how many more people than those 23 who can talk about the incident. Who saw something,” said the CJI.

“If there is any difficulty in recording statements and unavailability of judicial officers, then the nearest district judge has to ensure the availability of a substitute,” the court said.

The top court also sought a status report on the probe into the death of Shyam Sunder and journalist Raman Kashyap and will now hear the case on November 8.

Last week, questioning the saffron party-led government on the status of the probe into the case and saying it can’t be an “unending story”, the Supreme Court had asked the state to “dispel (the) impression” that it is “dragging its feet” in the case.

A total of eight people including four farmers and one journalist were killed on October 3 in Lakhimpur Kheri. Ashish Mishra was arrested on October 11, three days after the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with the Uttar Pradesh government’s progress in the case.