The violence in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri district has snowballed into a political storm. On October 3, a car belonging to Ashish Misra, son of Union Minister of State for Home, Ajay Mishra, ran over farmers who were peacefully protesting the three contentious farm laws -- killing four of them, a journalist and three others.
Several opposition leaders who tried to visit the area were detained. Congress’ Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her brother Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav and others were prevented from visiting the families of the victims.
Farmers allege that it was Ajay Mishra’s convoy that ran over the protesting farmers. They also claim that his son was behind the wheel of one of the cars.
Who is Ajay Mishra?
Ajay Mishra is the Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs. He was recently inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet during the mega reshuffle.
A two-term MP from Lakhimpur Kheri district, Mishra is crucial for BJPs plans ahead of Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Mishra is the focal point for attracting the Brahmin vote for BJP in the state. The party has often been accused of having an anti-Brahmin bias in the state, and has reshuffled the Cabinet with upcoming elections in mind.
Mishra has been part of several parliamentary committees, including the Standing Committee on Rural Development, Consultative Committee, Ministry of Skill Development And Entrepreneurship, the Committee of Parliament on Official Language, the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, and the Consultative Committee, Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
What is his connection with Lakhimpur Kheri incident?
On October 3, farmers had been protesting against the visit of Keshav Prasad Maurya, Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Mishra to Tikonia village.
Farmers allege that the BJP convoy’s three SUVs were heading for Tikonia. One of the cars had Mishra, while another SUVs allegedly had Ashish Mishra, his son.
Farmers claim that Ashish allegedly mowed down some of the protestors that sparked the violence.
Ashish has been named as the primary accused in at least two FIRs, in relation with the death of the farmers.
What does Mishra say?
Ajay Mishra has refuted all charges and even stated that neither he nor his son were present at the spot. "Neither I nor my son was present at the spot when the violence broke out. Our car was diverted to a different route," he told reporters.
While one of the vehicles was registered in his name, the minister said he had lent it to a driver for some work. The other car belongs to Ankit Das, a known associate of Ashish.
“We aren’t aware of how the incident happened. Based on information and videos, it’s visible that the driver was killed after being pulled out of the car. If it were my son, he’d have been dead. It’s impossible to get out of a place where a car ran over people amid a gathering of thousands," the minister added.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)
First Published: IST