Legal Nation

Supreme Court steps in, CJI-led bench to hear Lakhimpur Kheri violence case today

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Thursday take up the Lakhimpur Kheri case in which nine people, including four farmers, were killed as violence erupted during a farmers’ protest on Sunday.

As per the cause list uploaded on the apex court website, a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli would hear the matter. The matter has been listed as `violence in Lakhimpur Kheri leading to loss of life’.

Nine people were killed on October 3 as violence erupted during a farmers’ protest claiming the lives of both farmers and BJP workers ahead of a visit to Lakhimpur by Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.

The Supreme Court has taken suo moto cognizance of the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri after two apex court lawyers wrote to the Chief Justice seeking a CBI probe into the matter under the supervision of the top court. The letter, written by advocates Shiv Kumar Tripathi and CS Panda, said, “With regard to the seriousness of the killing of the farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, it is incumbent upon this Hon`ble Court to intervene in the matter as flashed in the press.”

The lawyers had claimed that of late, violence has become the political culture of the country. The lawyers said that there is a need to protect the rule of law in `violence-ravaged’ Uttar Pradesh, which is evident from media reports.

The letter said the Lakhimpur Kheri incident calls for direction against the UP government and the concerned bureaucrats along with the law-breaking police machinery under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home so that the “cult of violence comes to a grinding halt”.

Meanwhile, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met the family members of farmers killed in the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri late on Wednesday and promised them all assistance. They arrived in Lakhimpur after the Uttar Pradesh government allowed them to visit the violence-hit district. Talking to newspersons later in the night, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said all the three families she met want justice.

A Samajwadi Party delegation led by Akhilesh Yadav will arrive in Lakhimpur Kheri today. BKU leader Rakesh Tikait had on Wednesday demanded the resignation of Union minister Ajay Mishra and the arrest of all accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, warning that a nationwide agitation will be launched if authorities failed to implement within a week the agreement made with the farmers here.

Tikait, who is among the prominent leaders of the agitation against the Centre’s agri laws, had brokered the agreement between the authorities and the farmers on October 4 here, after which they had ended their protest and the families of the four deceased farmers had agreed to their post-mortem.

After reaching an understanding, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar, in the presence of Tikait, had informed of the government’s decision to give Rs 45 lakh each to families of the victim farmers and set up a judicial probe under a retired High Court judge.

“Our protest has not ended. We will wait till eight days since the agreement and if the demands are not fulfilled a nationwide agitation would be launched,” Tikait told reporters at a Gurdwara in Lakhimpur city on Wednesday.

The deadline coincides with the 10th-day Antim-Ardas ceremony (post-death ritual) in the Sikh community. An FIR under section 302 of IPC (murder) has already been registered against the Union Minister’s son Ashish Misra and others in the incident in Tikonia police station.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), a major participant in the protests against the three central agri laws, also demanded the arrest of the minister’s son Ashish alias Monu Misra. A faction of BKU workers and supporters led by their national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait is currently staying put in Lakhimpur Kheri, which has now become the epicentre of the turf war among political parties in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

Misra’s son Ashish is the only named accused in the FIR lodged at the Tikoniya police station in the district. Besides him, 15-20 other “unidentified persons” are mentioned as accused in the FIR.

However, the minister has refuted the allegations of his son’s involvement in the episode that took place near his native Banbirpur village. Meanwhile, Mishra on Wednesday attended the office in Delhi and met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the first time since a murder case was registered against his son on Sunday.

Mishra is understood to have briefed Shah about the Sunday incident in his home district of Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh.