The Special Investigation Team, on Tuesday, took Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish in their custody for further interrogation and showed one more arrest in the case.
The SIT arrested Shekhar Bharti, the driver of one of the vehicles in the convoy that mowed down eight people, including four farmers, on October 3.
Bharti was reportedly driving the black Fortuner that was behind the Mahindra Thar that trampled the farmers.
This is the fourth arrest in the Lakhimpur Kheri case. Two persons were arrested earlier and the third arrest was that of main accused Ashish Mishra.
Interestingly, when Bharti was shown arrested, the owner of the Fortuner, Ankit Das, who was also present in the vehicle, had filed a surrender application in the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Kheri on Tuesday morning. Ankit Das is a close friend of Ashish Mishra and was allegedly present with him on the fateful day.
The name of Ankit Das, a nephew of former Rajya Sabha member Akhilesh Das who died in 2017, came to light in connection with the case a few days ago when a video clip showed a man with head injuries claiming to have been in one of the vehicles that hit a group of protesters in Lakhimpur Kheri last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the SIT team, after taking Ashish Mishra on three days’ police custody remand on Tuesday morning, took him to the Crime Branch office for further interrogation. Chief Judicial Magistrate Chintaram on Monday had granted a three-day police remand with the condition that Ashish Mishra would not be harassed and his lawyer would remain present during interrogation. The remand starting from Tuesday morning would end at the same time on October 15, senior prosecution officer (SPO) SP Yadav had told reporters.
Ashish Mishra was questioned for 12 hours in the Crime Branch office on Saturday before his arrest. Now the SIT, set up by the state government to probe the case, will interrogate him further about the incident, including the weapon, the empty shells of which were recovered from his SUV, a senior police official said.
The cops would also confront him with CCTV footage of the incident in which he is seen boarding his SUV just a few minutes before the incident, confirmed a senior officer engaged in the interrogation.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the police lines, he added.
As many as eight people, including four farmers, died in the violence that took place in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) alleged that Ashish Mishra arrived with three vehicles around the time that farmers were dispersing from their protest and mowed them down.
The allegation has been denied by the Union minister as well as Ashish Mishra, who was arrested last Saturday. A nine-member special investigation team, headed by Deputy Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) Upendra Agarwal, has been formed to investigate the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.