Lakhimpur Kheri case: No hope of justice, murder trial mere formality, say victims' kin : The Tribune India

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Lakhimpur Kheri case: No hope of justice, murder trial mere formality, say victims' kin

Lawyer for victims' kin says the prosecution has 171 pieces of documentary evidence linking the crime to accused Ashish Mishra

Lakhimpur Kheri case: No hope of justice, murder trial mere formality, say victims' kin

Five persons were killed on October 3, 2021, at Kheri’s Tikonia village when the SUV allegedly being driven by Ashish ran over them as they were returning home after staging a protest against the farm laws. File



Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, October 3

Two years since their kin were mowed down by an SUV linked to junior Home Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish on this day, the families of Lakhimpur Kheri violence victims in Uttar Pradesh continue their endless search for justice.

Most have lost hope, as the murder trial of Ashish Mishra progresses at a snail's pace and adjournments become the order of the day.

Five persons — four farmers (Lovpreet Singh, Nachhatar Singh, Gurvinder Singh and Daljit Singh) and a photojournalist, Raman Kashyap — were killed on October 3, 2021, at Kheri’s Tikonia village when the SUV allegedly being driven by Ashish ran over them as they were returning home after staging a protest against the farm laws.

"The government belongs to them. We have no hope of justice. The case is moving very slowly and all we have are adjournments. The trial is a mere formality," Satnam Singh, the father of Lovpreet, the youngest victim of Kheri violence, told The Tribune today. Lovpreet was 18 when he died.

His two sisters are still unmarried and mother Satwinder Kaur has barely recovered from the shock of her son's untimely demise.

The families of the deceased say they never landed government jobs that were promised although they did receive Rs 35 lakh each.

Satnam Singh and deceased Daljit Singh's family today said the state government offered them jobs in sugar cooperative mills which they did not want.

"The promise was to give government jobs. I have two daughters. I cannot send them to a sugar mill which only has male staff. After we lost our wards, the state government had promised jobs to the next of kin in the government set-up. Now, they are saying the promise was for jobs in a cooperative set-up. But that is not true. We are still awaiting placements for our children in decent government jobs at some school or bank," Satnam Singh says.

Satnam Singh's witness statement in Ashish Mishra's murder trial is scheduled for October 17 in Lakhimpur district court where the case is being heard.

So far, out of 208 prosecution witnesses, statements of four have been recorded and the fifth is in the process of giving a testimony.

Lawyers for the five deceased today said they have a strong case against Ashish.

"We are aware that the families have lost hope but we have not," says Mohammad Amaan, lawyer for victims' kin.

Amaan says the prosecution has 171 pieces of documentary evidence linking the crime to accused Ashish Mishra.

"We have incriminating chats, 17 pieces of footage from the SUV, favourable ballistic report and other strong pieces with evidentiary value," Amaan says.

Among 208 witnesses, 15 are eyewitnesses who were also injured in the October 3, 2021, Kheri violence; 90 are eyewitnesses who were not injured and 29 were passers-by who know something about the violence.

"All the five persons who have recorded statements so far are eyewitnesses, who were themselves grievously injured in the violence that day," Mohammad Amaan adds.

He says when the Supreme Court granted interim bail to Ashish in January this year (the interim bail was later extended), the Lakhimpur district court had informed the apex court that the trial will take at least five years. That was one reason the Supreme Court granted interim bail to Ashish, Amaan says.

On September 25 this year, the Supreme Court further relaxed bail conditions of Ashish allowing him to travel to Delhi to attend to his ailing mother.

Earlier in January, the apex court had granted bail to Ashish barring him from travelling to Delhi (where his father, Union Minister of State for Home, is stationed) and Uttar Pradesh, where the crime happened.

"Ashish not only got bail, he also got to go to Delhi. He is leading a normal life. We are the ones still picking up the pieces," says Satnam Singh, who has had to take to work in the sunset years to make ends meet.

A Lakhimpur Kheri court had on December 6, 2022, framed charges against Ashish for murder and criminal conspiracy among other Sections.

Moving at snail’s pace

The government belongs to them. The case is moving slowly and all we have are adjournments. — Satnam Singh, father of victim Lovpreet

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