Politics have heated up in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh after Ashish Mishra ‘Monu’, son of the Union Minister of State(Home) Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ was granted bail by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Thursday. Ashish has been accused of killing four farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri. The order invoked controversies in political circles during the ongoing election process in the state, where the ruling BJP is seeking a second term for the power.
The bail has led to furore in western UP where the BJP is walking on razor’s edge as an aftermath of the more than a year long farmers’ protest. The peasants have also been demanding ouster of Ashish’s father from Modi’s cabinet. The High Court decision may be a big respite for some BJP leaders just before the fourth phase poll date, but it could further diminish the saffron party’s chances of any possible support in the farmers-dominated constituencies of rural areas.
This will also have political ramifications in Punjab that votes on February 20 on where BJP’s failure to remove of MoS Teni has been a hotly debated poll issue. Sukhwinder Singh, father of 19-year-old Gurvinder Singh who was mowed down by Ashish Mishra’s car on October 3 last year, said, “His getting bail so soon is not a good sign.” “We did not have any hopes earlier with this government. We don’t have any hope now because Ajay Mishra Teni is still not removed,” he added.
As many as five persons were killed when a speeding jeep allegedly being driven by Ashish mowed down the protesting farmers. Four farmers and a journalist lost their lives on October 3rd, 2021. Three BJP workers were also killed in retaliatory violent clashes while their vehicle overturned soon after it lost control nearby trench a few meters away from the crime scene. The farmers were protesting against the Union MoS for Home Ajay Mishra Teni and also Deputy CM Keshav Maurya who was visiting Lakhimpur Kheri visit on the fateful day.
While granting bail, the Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh observed that the main ground of allowing bail was based on post-mortems reports wherein no gun shot injuries were found on the bodies of the deceased farmers.
However, the High Court failed to examine the fact that the CJM took the cognizance of the chargesheet and committed the case for session trial in accordance with law under Section 34, 302, 307,326 and 120-B of IPC after investigations. The eyewitness account and video footage of a nearby petrol pump followed with testimonies of 99 witnesses were recorded under section 164 CrPC before the court, and all of them have pointed out presence and involvement Ashish Mishra at the spot.
The SIT probing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence had filed a 5,000-page chargesheet against 14 accused, including Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish and brother-in-law Virendra Shukla for destroying evidence.
Meanwhile, senior leaders trained their guns at the BJP for “misusing” its power to shield Ashish. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, “Today, that man has got bail and soon, he would be roaming around openly, the man who mowed you down. But whom did the government save? Did it save the farmers? Where were the police and the administration when farmers were killed?”
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav tweeted, “Beware of the politics of oppression, His protectionists are coming out… from custody. On the issue of grant of bail to Ashish Mishra Monu, Akhilesh said, “When the issue would reach before the Supreme Court the farmers will get justice. Whosoever had done wrong would be punished.