[Lakhimpur Kheri] “Vehemently opposed bail of Ashish Mishra in High Court, witnesses & kin given adequate protection”: UP Government in plea challenging bail by kin

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The State of Uttar Pradesh in its counter affidavit to plea seeking cancellation of Ashish Mishra’s bail, the prime accused in the Lakhimpur violence, has said that it vehemently opposed Ashish Mishra’s bail before the High Court, contrary to what has been averred in the SLP.

The counter affidavit further states that given that the bail was granted on 10th February 2022, the limitation period to file an appeal is   still running and and that the decision to file an appeal against the bail plea is pending before the authorities. The counter states that the incident where the petitioners were beaten up by some miscreants in March 2022 is sought to be conflated and connected to the violence that happened at Lakhimpur Kheri 2021.

According to the counter, as per the FIR registered by one Diljot Singh , the attackers threatened him by saying that Mishra is out on bail and the ruling party has also won the election and that they will see to him, however during the course of investigation Singh has revealed that that the incident occurred suddenly due to an altercation between Diljot Singh and the attacker patty over the throwing of Gulal on him.

The counter further states that according to eyewitness accounts, when Diljot Singh objected to Gulal being thrown on him, an  altercation broke out between him and the others, in which one of the miscreants hit him with a belt and others kicked and punched him. The counter further states that all the witnesses were ad idem on the fact that none of the miscreants mentioned either the Mishra or the ruling patty winning the elections, and that the incident was a result of a sudden altercation due to the dispute over Holi Gulal, and had no relation to the incident of farmer killings in 2021. The counter further states that the FIR filed by Singh also does not state that Mishra was present in the place where the incident took place.

According to the counter, the attack on Singh had nothing to do with the attack on farmers from 2021 and that the attempt by the Petitioners in the SLP and Application for Additional Documents to conflate and connect the two incidents is completely unwarranted. The counter states that persons who attacked Singh were arrested and released on bail.

The counter states that as per the orders of the Supreme Court the families of all the victims of the violence and all the witnesses whose Section 164 statements were recorded, have been receiving continuous security under the Witness Protection Scheme 2018. According to the counter, each witness has one armed police gunner. The families of the victims have one armed gunner each, along with permanent security guard and continuous monitoring through installed CCTV cameras, as well as barrier duty at their residence.

According to the counter a total of 98 persons have been provided security, of which 79 are from Kheri district, 17 from outlying districts and 2 from the State of Uttarakhand. The counter states that all the witnesses are regularly contacted by the police for appraisal of their security conditions. The counter states that the witnesses were interviewed telephonically most recently on 20th March 2022 and expressed satisfaction with the security provided to them.  According to the counter, the witnesses and kin of the victims were informed that if they required any help in relation to their security, they should immediately contact the Superintendent of Police of their respective districts and would receive prompt assistance.

The counter states that the State has taken all efforts to protect the witnesses and families of victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

A plea was filed in Supreme Court by the kin of those who were allegedly killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, challenging the Allahabad High Court order allowing bail to Ashish Mishra, the key accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri Violence case. The plea filed by Advocate Shiv Kumar Tripathi has sought cancellation of the bail stating that "the concept of fairness in action and the postulate of 'justice not only done but seem to be done' still remains a far cry." 

The bench of Justice Rajeev Singh on February 10, 2022, had pronounced the judgment which had been reserved on January 18. Earlier, the bail pleas of Mishra and two others had been rejected by the Lakhimpur Kheri District and Sessions court on November 15, 2021.

In the October 3 case, a total of 14 people have been made accused and out of those currently, 13 accused, including Mishra, are lodged in the district jail. The proceedings in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case(s) are going on before the District Court in which Uttar Pradesh Police had filed an exhaustive chargesheet running into 5000 pages on January 3.

In November 2021, Supreme Court appointed Justice (Retd) Rakesh Kumar Jain of Punjab and Haryana High Court to monitor investigation in the Lakhimpur Kheri Violence incidents. The Court has also asked the UP government to reconstitute the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to include IPS officers S.B.Shirodkar, Deepinder Singh and Padmaja Chauhan. 

The bench has directed that the matter be listed after a charge sheet has been filed on the recommendation of Justice (Retd) Rakesh Kumar Jain.

Case title: Jagjeet Singh & Ors Vs Ashsih Mishra