Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, will be tried for the murder of four farmers and a journalist during a protest in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri last year against the now-repealed farm laws.
A court in Lakhimpur framed charges against him and the other accused today and announced that the trial will begin on December 16. This comes a day after the court rejected Mishra's discharge petition.
Pawan Kashyap, brother of journalist Raman Kashyap, who was killed in the incident, welcomed the court's decision. "I am thankful to the judiciary. I would like to thank the Supreme Court. There was a delay, but charges have been framed. I have full belief in the judicial system."
Mohd Amaan, the lawyer representing those who were killed in the incident, said, "There has been a delay in the trial. It took 9 months to frame charges and that too after the Supreme Court made observations about it. Farmers are hopeful for justice. I think the trial should happen in a speedy manner."
The police chargesheet has accused Mishra of murder. It is alleged that he was in an SUV that ran over four farmers and a journalist during a protest march in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3. Shocking visuals of the incident had shown the car ramming into the protesting farmers at high speed. Angry farmers had managed to chase down the SUV and allegedly lynched the driver and two BJP workers.
The incident sparked a wave of outrage against the ruling BJP and the government was accused of shielding Ajay Mishra, the junior Home Minister. A speech by the Union Minister before the incident, in which he allegedly threatened to "fix farmers in two minutes" if they did not stop the agitation, started doing the rounds in the aftermath of the killings, with many calling for his resignation.
Ashish Mishra was arrested days after the farmers' deaths, following an intervention by the Supreme Court. The Allahabad High Court granted him bail in February, raising questions on the police investigation.
On April 18 this year, the Supreme Court cancelled the bail granted to Ashish Mishra and asked him to surrender within a week. The court observed that the victims were denied "a fair and effective hearing" in the Allahabad High Court, and added that the high court took a "myopic view of the evidence".
In the discharge plea filed before the Lakhimpur court, Ashish Mishra and the other accused had contended that they had been wrongly charged. The court rejected the pleas by the all the accused.