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India's Top Court Raps BJP-led Uttar Pradesh Govt for Delayed Action Over Lakhimpur Violence

© AFP 2022 / NARINDER NANUFarmers shout slogans as they burn an effigy of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during a protest on the outskirts of Amritsar on October 6, 2021, days after 9 people died in violent clashes during a farmers protest in Lakhimpur Kheri district in Utta Pradesh
Farmers shout slogans as they burn an effigy of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during a protest on the outskirts of Amritsar on October 6, 2021, days after 9 people died in violent clashes during a farmers protest in Lakhimpur Kheri district in Utta Pradesh - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.10.2021
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At least eight people were killed on 3 October in the Lakhimpur Kheri District of India's Uttar Pradesh state after a protest by farmers - demanding last year's three farm laws be repealed - turned bloody. The farmers have alleged that vehicles owned by a federal minister deliberately ran over them without any provocation.
India's Supreme Court on Friday issued the government of Uttar Pradesh with a severe rebuke and said how dissatisfied it was with the way it has investigated and acted over the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri.
"We expect this to be a responsible government," the court said. "When there are serious allegations of murder and gunshot injury… What message does it send (to the country)?" the three-judge bench, headed by India's chief justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana, said in its observation.
"If a section 302 [murder charge] case is registered in normal circumstances, what should the police do? Go and arrest the accused…," the bench added, lambasting the state's constabulary for its apparently lackadaisical attitude.
Violence in Lakhimpur Kheri left as many as eight dead on 3 October - including four farmers - after two SUVs belonging to a federal minister allegedly mowed down demonstrators blocking the road as part of a peaceful protest.
Eyewitnesses claimed that rounds of gunshot were fired from the SUVs, hitting the deceased farmers. However, the autopsy report of the four farmers who died in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri revealed that they died from shock and internal haemorrhaging, and that no bullet injury was found.
On Thursday evening, Uttar Pradesh police arrested two people and summoned Ashish Mishra - the son of Ajay Kumar Mishra, the federal minister for home affairs - for questioning. Farmers claim that Ashish Mishra was present in the car which mowed the farmers down. However, his father the minister denied the allegations.
Noted Lawyer Harish Salve, representing the Uttar Pradesh government in the case, said: "I agree that not enough has been done."
Chief justice Ramana added that the local government was all mouth. "Your seriousness is only in words and not in deeds," he said.
Replying to this, Salve stated: "I have been assured at the highest level that action will be taken.".
The court has now set aside 20 October as the date for the next hearing.
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