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Ashish Mishra was arrested five days after he was named in a murder case. The charges against him usually merit an immediate arrest and questions have been raised whether he was afforded VIP treatment because of his father. Ashish Mishra was produced before a court here late on Saturday night, which sent him to 14-day judicial custody.
According to top sources in the Uttar Pradesh Police, the minister's son was not able explain several points about his whereabouts during the incident last Sunday. Witnesses have said he was missing from the event he said he was at between 2 and 4 pm, his phone location showed him closer to the crime scene, and the driver of the SUV that rammed the farmers did not appear to match the description made by him.
The senior UP Police officer, who waited three hours for Ashish Mishra to show up on Friday, questioned him till late into the night after he was brought in through a backdoor, helping him avoid the media gaggle. In another questionable move, the UP cops had issued notice to Ashish Mishra under a section of law which concerns attendance of witnesses - not the accused.
The arrest came a day after the Supreme Court reminded the Uttar Pradesh government that the law must take its course against "whoever is involved" amid nationwide outrage over the incident and mounting pressure from farmer groups.
"What is the message that you are sending? Even in normal circumstances... will the police not go immediately and arrest the accused? Things have not proceeded the way they should have. It appears to be only words and not actions," Chief Justice NV Ramana said in a sharp rebuke.
Following his son's no-show a day ago, Minister Ajay Mishra had said Ashish Mishra would make an appearance on Saturday. He said his son could not answer the summons due to poor health.
Ashish Mishra has been named in an FIR filed by the farmers who said he drove into a gathering of slogan-shouting demonstrators amid a peaceful black flag protest last Sunday. Eight people, including four farmers and four from the convoy, died in the incident and the violence that it triggered.
Though the Union Minister's son admits the SUV that ran over farmers belongs to him, but he maintains he was not in it. His team said he had produced around 150 images to show that he was not in the car that crushed the farmers.
Two people - Luv Kush and Ashish Pandey - were arrested on Thursday as the case reached the Supreme Court. They were reportedly in the same vehicle that ran over a journalist and farmers, the police said.
Ruling out any action in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident under any pressure, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath stressed that his government will "not arrest anyone on the basis of allegations". Attacking opposition leaders rushing to meet the affected families in the incident, the Chief Minister said, "They are no goodwill messengers."
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