A forensic examination of a rifle belonging to Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, found the weapon unloaded, a senior police officer associated with Lahimpur This was reported on Tuesday evening by Hyeri’s investigation.
However, police said it was unclear when the rifle was fired – on October 3, when the incident occurred, or on another day.
Ashish Mishra, nicknamed Monu, is one of 13 defendants facing charges for the murder that day of four farmers and a journalist in Lakhimpur Heri, Uttar Pradesh.
All victims were hit by a convoy of three vehicles, including the Mahindra Thar SUV belonging to Union Minister Ajay Mishra.
The villagers claim that shots were fired during the incident. However, an autopsy confirmed that none of the five men – or three others who were killed in the ensuing violence that day – had received a gunshot wound.
The Forensic Laboratory (FSL) tested four weapons belonging to the inmate defendants that were seized by the Uttar Pradesh Police Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is investigating the incident.
Three of these weapons are the Ashish rifle; a pistol belonging to Ankit Das, nephew of former Union Minister Ahilesh Das; and the repeater carried by Das’s bodyguard Latif were discharged.
Police sources said a forensic report on the fourth weapon, a revolver belonging to Das’ associate Satya Prakash, is still pending.
“Ashish’s rifle was handed over to SIT by his family. All four seized weapons were sent to the ZFB for a ballistic examination. We received a report that the bullets were fired from three guns belonging to Ashish, Ankit and Latif. We will submit the protocol to the court as evidence, ”said a senior police officer.
The officer added that although the ZFB report did not indicate when the shots were fired, the defendants must now provide evidence that they did not fire on October 3.
Sources said that a forensic examination of the weapon determines the presence of gunpowder only after the shot has been fired. However, the report corroborates farmers’ claims that shelling took place at the scene, police said.
In the FIR, applicant Jagjit Singh submitted that Ashish Mishra arrived at the scene in a convoy of three four-wheeled vehicles. In Tykonia, cars, moving at high speed, crashed into a group of farmers returning from a protest. Ashish, who was sitting on the left in Tara, allegedly fired shots when the car hit the victims.
Ashish, arrested on October 10, denied the charges. He claimed that at the time of the incident he was at a wrestling competition in his ancestral village of Banvierpur, about 2 km away. Ashish and his co-defendants are being held at the Lahimpur Kheri District Prison.
Shortly after the incident, an angry mob set fire to the Minister’s Tar and Ankit Das’s Toyota Fortuner, and beat driver Tar and two local BJP leaders to death. The driver of the third SUV in the convoy, Mahindra Scorpio, escaped in his car.
SIT arrested four people for the murder of Tara driver Hari Om Mishra and two BJP leaders, Shubham Mishra and Shyam Sander.
On Tuesday, a court in Lakhimpur-Heri sent two of the four arrested men – Ranjit Singh and Avtar Singh – to a three-day police detention center starting Wednesday.
SIT demanded that they be taken into custody in order to interrogate the men and take them to the scene in order to recreate the crime scene.
Ranjit and Avtar were identified from photographs circulated by the police showing them standing next to people allegedly involved in the violence. Ranjit, Avtar and two other arrested persons – Wichitra Singh and Gurvinder Singh – are all residents of Lakhimpur Kheri.