Lakhimpur Kheri deaths: In MoS district, a pending plea, a fearful family

What the Lakhimpur Kheri MP chose to omit was this: There is a revision petition pending in the Allahabad High Court against his acquittal in a murder case from 2000.

ON MONDAY, a day after a vehicle owned by him was among three that mowed down four farm protesters in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri, Ajay Mishra declared that there was no case pending against him.

What the Lakhimpur Kheri MP chose to omit was this: There is a revision petition pending in the Allahabad High Court against his acquittal in a murder case from 2000.

Members of the family that filed the petition say they now live in constant fear. “We are taking all precautions since the opposite party is now the Union Minister of State for Home,” says Rajeev Gupta (45), a businessman in Lakhimpur Kheri.

Gupta’s elder brother, Prabhat Gupta, was gunned down on July 8, 2000, “while he had stepped out for shopping”. Prabhat was 28 at the time. Mishra and three others — Subhash alias Mama, Shashi Bhushan and Rakesh alias Dalu — were booked in the case with Prabhat’s family alleging that the murder was a fallout of “political rivalry”.

In 2004, a local court in Lakhimpur Kheri acquitted the four, including Mishra, after which the state government approached the High Court while the victim’s family filed a revision petition.

According to a PTI report, the pleas were heard and the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court reserved its judgment on March 12, 2018. However, before the verdict could be pronounced by the bench of Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyay and Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh, it was relisted, the report said, requiring a further hearing.

The Allahabad High Court website shows that the case was last taken up on February 5, 2019.

“Since the day we filed the revision petition, we have been kept under constant watch by Ajay Mishra’s people. To build pressure on me, so that I don’t pursue the case, four false cases were lodged against me. The court has acquitted me in all four cases,” said Rajeev Gupta.

While Ajay Mishra could not be reached for comment, three of his lawyers dismissed the allegations and pointed out that Sanjeev Gupta, the brother of Prabat and Rajeev, had been convicted by a local court for opening fire at Mishra while he was on his way to court.

Rajeev Gupta confirmed the incident, and said that it happened after Prabhat was shot. “My brother Sanjeev is now out of jail. But Mishra had also lodged false cases against my family members to harass us,” he said.

Mishra’s lawyers, Salil Kumar Srivastava and Gajendra Pratap, said they were not aware of the status of the revision petition. “Ajay Mishra and others were acquitted in the murder case on merit,” Srivastava said.

A resident of Banveerpur village in Lakhimpur Kheri, Mishra has been associated with the BJP for long and held various posts in the party’s district unit. In 2012, he contested successfully on a BJP ticket in the Assembly elections from Nighasan. He is the Lakhimpur Kheri MP since 2014.

According to Mishra’s affidavit for the 2012 elections, he was facing three cases, including one of murder, and two related to criminal intimidation and causing hurt. The affidavit stated that he has been acquitted in all cases.

Avadesh Singh, another lawyer for Mishra, said: “No case is presently pending against Ajay Mishra at present.”

Speaking to reporters after Sunday’s incident — farm protesters have alleged that Mishra’s son was driving one of the vehicles that ploughed into them — Ajay Mishra said that local police opened a history sheet in his name because he “was working for various social causes in the district”. “I challenged it in the High Court, and the DM and SP had to quash it following a court order,” he said.

Mishra holds a law degree, and is the lone Brahmin face from Uttar Pradesh in the recent Union Cabinet reshuffle.

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