New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Supreme Court on Monday rapped the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh over its probe in connection with the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri that claimed the lives of eight people and asked why the statements of only 23 people have been recorded so far when "there were hundreds of farmers" in that rally.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court which included Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to record the statements of more witnesses and provide them protection.

"You said there was 4,000 or 5,000 people. Mostly they were locals. Post the incident, most of them have been agitating for an inquiry. Accessibility and identification of such persons in the vehicle should not be a great issue," the top court was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.

"If the eye witness is more credible than a bystander then it's best to have that first hand information...Let us not forget that some people in this crowd are just fence sitters. There will be only some who can stand and depose," it added.

The apex court also asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file its reply on the investigation over the killing of journalist Raman Kashyap. It also asked forensic labs to expedite the process of submitting reports relating to videos of the incident, posting the matter next for November 8.

"We further direct that 164 statements and the relevant ones be recorded expeditiously. If a judicial officer is not available, district judge can allocate a nearest magistrate to hear the 164 statements," the court, as reported by Bar and Bench.

Eight people, including four farmers and three BJP workers, were killed during the Lakhimpur Kheri incident. The farmers claimed that the SUV that allegedly ran over four protesters was driven by Union Minister Ajay Kumar Mishra's son Ashish. Ashish has been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police. He, however, has been hospitalised after contracting dengue. 

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma