- PM Modi broke his silence on the Lakhimpur Kheri incident
- He said the UP government "is working transparently" in the case
- Ashish Mishra, the main accused, has been in jail since October
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, breaking his silence on the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, said today that the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh "is working transparently" in the case involving allegations that Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni's son ran over protesting farmers.
Ashish Mishra, the main accused in the murder of four farmers and a journalist, has been in jail since October, but his father Ajay Mishra continues to be in PM Modi's government as Minister of State for Home despite opposition demands for his sacking.
PM Modi, speaking to news agency ANI a day before the first phase of voting in Uttar Pradesh, responded to opposition allegations that the BJP shielded its own from action or investigation.
"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," the Prime Minister said.
On October 3, Ashish Mishra was allegedly driving the SUV that ran over farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri protesting against three controversial farm laws. He was arrested days later.
After the UP police and administration were accused of going slow on the investigation, the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry.
Many believe the anger of farmers and the fallout of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident may impact the BJP in the UP election, especially the western parts where farmers form a significant voting bloc.
To defuse some of the fury, the government withdrew the farm laws in November, ending an 11-month protest by farmers on highways outside Delhi.
PM Modi said the laws were brought by the central government for the benefit of farmers and were withdrawn in the interests of the country.
"I have said this earlier also that farm laws were brought in for the benefit of farmers, but have now been withdrawn in the interest of the nation. I don't think this needs to be explained anymore. Future events will make it clear why these steps were necessary," the PM told ANI.