BAREILLY: Junior Union home minister Ajay Mishra said on Sunday at a prayer meeting in Singha Khurd village for three BJP workers who had died during the Lakhimpur Kheri violence that “the death of the three men is unfortunate and the way the incident took place in the presence of officials shows the negligence of both police and the administration”. Mishra, who is himself an accused in an FIR registered by farmers, added, “Farmers were allowed to take over a road and then the route was not barricaded by police. Shyam Sundar Nishad, one of the workers, was alive with police and had reached an ambulance but was dragged out and killed. The guilty cops will not be spared and the government will conduct a probe against them. The government has given a free hand to the investigating agency”. The Thar jeep (the first vehicle in the killer convoy) was registered in the minister’s name. His son Ashish, a key accused, is already under arrest and is being interrogated. In all, six men have been arrested till now in the case. Shyam Sundar’s brother Sanjeev Nishad, meanwhile, said, “I am happy that the minister has raised the issue of my brother’s death in police custody. I am sure the accused will be held soon and action will be taken against the policemen.” When asked about the minister’s claims, Lakhimpur Kheri SP Vijay Dhull said, “I am not aware if any such allegation was levelled. The investigation of this case is with SIT and I can’t comment on it.” A senior cop, who was deployed for the security arrangements on the day of the clashes, said, “We had barricaded the road from both sides and provided protesters a different route. But the convoy passed through the barricades at a very high speed. Policemen signalled them to slow down. A normal person doesn’t drive so fast in a busy market. There were many farmers on the road. Barricades are normally set up for vehicles to slow down, but (in this case) the convoy didn’t pay heed.” TOI tried to contact Ajay Mishra for his comments, but he didn’t respond to calls. Incidentally, soon after the violence, protesting farmers had claimed that Shyam Sundar was beaten up and handed over to police “alive”. They had also released photos to support the claim. A farmer, who was at the protest that day, had told TOI, “He was not critical. We have a photo in which he is walking with the police after we handed him over.” This came even as three co-accused in the matter were sent back to jail on Sunday. They are now under judicial custody following the three-day police remand. The accused, including Ashish, have been kept in separate barracks, jailer Pankaj Singh said. In another development, in a video message released by police on Sunday, Amandeep Singh Sandhu, Lakhimpur Kheri district president, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Tikait), said that Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s ‘Rail roko’ protest scheduled on October 18 has been called off in Kheri district after a meeting of the senior members.

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