Son of Indian junior minister arrested after vehicle kills farmers

Son of Indian junior minister arrested after vehicle kills farmers
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The son of an Indian junior minister was arrested on Saturday after farm leaders accused him of being in the car that killed several farmers earlier this week, The Associated Press reported.

Police officer Upendra Agarwal said Saturday that Ashish Mishra was arrested after he failed to provide evidence that he was not present in a car that killed four farmers. Ashish Mishra had also been subject to hours of questioning by law enforcement. 

"He failed to furnish any supportive evidence to prove that he was not present in any of the three vehicles that plowed through a crowd of farmers killing four of them,” Agarwal said, according to the AP. 

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The four farmers, who were protesting controversial farm legislation that was passed last September, died last Sunday amid protests taking place in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Farm leaders and officials said that the car involved in the killings belongs to Junior Home Minister Ajay Mishra, the AP noted. The farm leaders allege that Ashish Mishra, his son, was in the car when it ran over the demonstrators. 

The junior minister has denied this claim.

Ajay Mishra's driver and three others were in the car at the time of the incident, and were reportedly killed by demonstrators who beat them with sticks after the crash, according to the wire service. 

The three others in the car belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party political party. 

Last year, India’s government passed controversial farm legislation that officials said would lead to an increase in crop prices and encourage more production from private investment.

However, farmers claim that it will require them to sell their crops at lower prices to corporations and that it will do away with guaranteed pricing. The legislation led to months-long protesting after discussions between the two sides resulted in little change over the predicament.

Criminal complaints have been filed against Mishra’s son and 13 others, and six people have been arrested following the four farmers’ deaths, the AP reported.