Lakhimpur police have provided security to more than 60 key witnesses to the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri that left eight people dead on October 3, senior police officials said on Saturday. A few more witnesses will benefit from security after analyzing their perception of the threat, officials said.
Security was provided to witnesses after the Supreme Court ordered their protection on October 26 and ordered UP police to expedite the recording of eyewitness statements before a judicial magistrate.
Lakhimpur Kheri, Supplementary Police Superintendent (ASP) Arun Kumar Singh, who is a member of the violence investigation task force, said an armed police member was deployed for the safety of the 60 witnesses.
Sharing more details, another police officer requested anonymity said at least 17 other witnesses were likely to obtain safety. He said police officials decided to give a shooter to all those witnesses whose statements were recorded before a judicial magistrate under article 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
He said the judicial statement of 77 witnesses was recorded until Saturday.
The statements of the only witnesses, who revealed crucial facts about the incident, were recorded before the judicial magistrate, he said.
In addition, the statements of more than 30 other witnesses were recorded by the police under Article 161 of the CrPC, the officer said.
More than 50 people, who were present at the site of the incident on October 3, showed up on Saturday to record their statements at the criminal branch office of the Lakhimpur Kheri reserve police lines. The SIT had released the phone numbers of its members, urging eyewitnesses to come forward and contact them to record their statements and provide digital evidence, senior police officials said on October 26.
On October 3, violence erupted after a car mowed down four farmers near the village of Banbirpur within the boundaries of Tikunia Police Station in Lakhimpur Kheri. Four other people, including two BJP employees, Shubham Mishra and Shyam Sunder, journalist Raman Kashyap and a driver, Hari Om Mishra, were also killed.
Two separate FIRs, the first concerning the slaughter of four farmers and the second concerning the murder of the other four, were registered at the Tikunia police station. The SIT is investigating the two FIRs and arrested 13 defendants, including the son of Minister Ashish Mishra, in the first case and two defendants in the second.