New Delhi, October 26: The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned the Uttar Pradesh government over the listing of fewer witnesses as compared to the number of people present at the site of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.

"There were hundreds of farmers in the rally there are only 23 eyewitnesses?" asked the apex court. Also Read | Goa To Miss October 31 Deadline for 100% Coverage of 2nd COVID-19 Vaccine Dose, Say Health Officials.

"There was a crowd of 4000-5000 people who are all local people and even post-incident most of them have been agitating. That's what has been reported and identification of these people should not be a problem then," a Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli observed. Also Read | Rajasthan Shocker: 68-Year-Old Shopkeeper Killed For Objecting To Throwing of Garbage In Front Of His Shop; Accused Arrested.

The Supreme Court further directed the UP government to expedite the process of recording statements of witnesses when Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, informed the court that out of 68 witnesses, only 30 witnesses statements have been recorded yet, out of which 23 claims to be an eye witness.

"There is a lot of media evidence and it has to be certified so it can be admitted," Salve further said. Court further directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide police protection to the witnesses listed in the case. The next hearing is scheduled for November 8.

The apex court was hearing a case where two lawyers had written a letter to the CJI seeking a high-level judicial inquiry into the incident. The apex court had on October 8 expressed dissatisfaction over the steps taken by the Uttar Pradesh government in the killing of eight persons.

13 persons including Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Ajay Kumar Mishra 'Teni', have been so far arrested in connection with the case.

On Saturday, a SWAT team of the Uttar Pradesh Crime Branch arrested three more persons in the case. A total of eight people including four farmers were killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence that took place on October 3.

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