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Two years of Lakhimpur Kheri violence but justice eludes victims

IANS | October 01, 2023 03:20 PM

LAKHIMPUR KHERI (UP): On Tuesday (October 3), it will be two years since the Lakhimpur Kheri violence where eight persons, including four farmers were killed, under the Tikunia police station.

However, the case seems to be moving at a snail’s pace and the victims wait endlessly for justice.

Politicians have moved on and lost interest in the case.

Shockingly, so far, only four out of 171 witnesses have got their statements recorded before court in the case against Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister Akay Mishra Teni, who is one of the accused in the matter.

Ashish was arrested on October 9, six days after violence broke out during a farmers’ protest against three agri-reform laws (since repealed) and the then UP deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.

According to the UP Police FIR, four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in which Ashish Mishra was seated. Following this, the person who was driving the SUV and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers. The FIR said that a journalist also died in the violence.

Additional district judge (I) Sunil Kumar Varma, district court, Lakhimpur Kheri, is hearing the case and the first witness recorded his statement in the court in January 2023.

Advocate Suresh Singh, representing farmers in the court, said that the case is being listed for hearing once in every 8-10 days.

“The trial began on January 12 this year as a large number of discharge applications came up before the court from both sides - prosecution and defence, ” he said.

Several public servants are also witnesses in the case, who were posted in Lakhimpur Kheri when the violence took place.

“The then DM, SDM, ADM, SP, ASP, S-I and others are witnesses in the case, ” said Singh.

Jagjit Singh, father of one of the farmers who died in the violence, was the first witness of the prosecution to appear before the court on January 12, 2023. He is also a complainant in the case.

Singh said, “Trial of the case is going on at a satisfactory pace. There is a legal process to conduct a trial. It must be followed.”

“It will take four to five years to complete the trial in the case, ” he added.

Summons are issued to witnesses to appear before the court on a particular date, but there is no guarantee that the witness will appear. In such a scenario, notice is issued again and a new date is fixed for the witness to appear.

Jagjit Singh, the first witness in the case to record a statement in court, is not satisfied with the pace of trial. “Justice delayed is justice denied. We want the trial to be expedited. If it goes on at this pace, it will take several years to complete, ” he said.

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