The Allahabad High Court granted bail to Ashish Mishra today.
The bail to Ashish Mishra, son of union minister Ajay Mishra and accused of murder in the Lakhimpur Kheri case, has hugely disappointed farmers who lost their loved ones. The Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh granted him bail today, pointing out the discrepancies in the case against him. The order has become controversial -- especially during the election season in the state, where the ruling BJP is seeking a second term in power.
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... Ajay Mishra Teni is still not removed," he added.
Despite pressing demands from farmers, the government has not removed the junior home minister, saying the matter is under investigation.
"Modi ji sits there and gives one jumla (political promise) after the other. But he cannot even remove his own minister," Sukhwinder Singh added.
In an interview with news agency ANI yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the issue for the first time.
"The state government gave its consent for whatever committee the Supreme Court wanted, for whichever judge the Supreme Court wanted for the probe. The state government is working transparently," he said.
Aman Kashyap, the brother of Raman Kashyap, the journalist who was also killed along with four farmers, however, said a bail to an accused is not equivalent to an acquittal.
"We will continue to fight... just because he has got bail does not mean the case has ended," Mr Kashyap said.
"These people are in power in the state and Centre. This is why this has happened. But the people will reply to them. Maybe they felt that if the government changes, they will not be able to do what they are doing now," he added.
On October 3 last year, Ashish Mishra was allegedly inside an SUV that ran over four farmers protesting against the three controversial farm laws at Lakhimpur Kheri. He was arrested days later, after intervention from the Supreme Court.
In its bail order today, the Allahabad High Court questioned some of the charges against him, including firing at protesters.
"Considering the facts and circumstances of the case in toto, it is evident that as per the FIR, the role of firing was assigned to the applicant (Ashish Mishra) for killing the protesters, but during the course of investigation, no such firearm injuries were found either on the body of any of the deceased or on the body of any injured person," the court said.
The judges said Ashish Mishra is accused of inciting the SUV driver to run over farmers. "Thereafter, the prosecution alleged that the applicant (Ashish Mishra) provoked the driver of the vehicle for crushing the protesters, however, the driver along with two others, who were in the vehicle, had been killed by the protesters."
In this context, the court also said it cannot "shut its eyes to the killing of three persons in the Thar SUV, including the driver, who were killed by the protesters".
Photographs "clearly revealed the brutality of the protesters", the court said, naming those killed as Hariom Mishra, Shubham Mishra and Shyam Sunder.
A second chargesheet has been filed in the case, accusing several farmers of murder.