The violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri, that left eight people including four farmers dead – triggering a major political row over the alleged involvement of a union minister’s son, will be taken up by a Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana on Thursday.
The court has decided to take up the case amid a growing outcry over the Uttar Pradesh police’s handling of the investigation, media reports and a letter written to the Chief Justice by two lawyers from the state. The letter had called for a CBI probe under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
Farmers have vowed to intensify their months-long movement against laws aimed at liberalising agriculture as tension flared after the eight people were killed in clashes between protesters and ruling party supporters on Sunday.
Four of the eight were killed when a car belonging to Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish crashed into protesters in Uttar Pradesh state, protest leaders said. And yet four days later, despite being named in a police complaint, he was yet to be arrested.
The police have said they were investigating the crash and had registered a case against 13 people, including Ashish Mishra even as his father ruled out resigning and held a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi.
Mr Mishra said his son was not present at the incident but a car driven by “our driver” lost control and hit the farmers after they threw stones at the car and attacked it with sticks and sword. Ashish Mishra has also denied being present and remains at large.
An alliance of protest groups called in a petition to President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday for a court-supervised investigation of the violence.
The legislation the farmers object to, introduced in September last year, deregulates the sector, allowing farmers to sell produce to buyers beyond government-regulated wholesale markets, where growers are assured of a minimum price.
Small farmers say the changes make them vulnerable to competition from big business, and that they could eventually lose price supports for staples such as wheat and rice.