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Raja Bhaiyya witness killed

Lucknow, Feb. 3: Two motorcycle-borne gunmen today shot dead a key witness in the case filed under the anti-terror law against Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh and his father Raja Udai Pratap Singh.

The witness, Rajendra Yadav, was one of the principal complainants on whose report the case against the rebel legislator and his father was built up.

“He was shot dead in Kunda town of Pratapgarh district around 10.15 am and we are trying to establish their (the killers’) identity,” Uttar Pradesh additional director-general of police Vikram Singh said.

The 70-year-old Udai Pratap was arrested on January 25. He was charged with conspiracy to eliminate chief minister Mayavati on Republic Day and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Raghuraj Pratap, alias Raja Bhaiyya, who was already in jail, was named co-accused along with two of his jailed supporters.

Although independent observers view today’s development as a setback for the prosecution, Vikram Singh maintained that the murder would have no impact on the case.

Pratapgarh police officials said Yadav had come to Kunda from his village, Ban.

“The assailants seemed to be waiting for him and sprayed him with bullets at him. He died before he could be rushed to hospital,” district superintendent of police A.R. Ganesh said.

Yadav was also a key witness in the case related to the recovery of a human skeleton, jewellery and arms and ammunition from Udai Pratap’s Beti Palace, a senior police official said.

The murder has hardened Mayavati’s attitude. After a meeting with Kalraj Mishra, former state chief of her ally, the BJP, she refused to withdraw the anti-terror case against Raja Bhaiyya, his father and supporters. “This only shows what dangerous criminals Raja Bhaiyya and his father are,” she told Mishra, who called on her today to intercede on behalf of the MLA and his father.

Mayavati reportedly told Mishra she was convinced that the action taken against Udai Pratap was correct as she had documentary proof.

When contacted, Mishra confirmed that he had called on the Bahujan Samaj Party leader to request for a review of the case because Udai Pratap was a public figure with political stature.

State BJP leaders, who had after Udai Pratap’s arrest accused Mayavati of political “vendetta”, are now reconciled to the fact that she will not relent and there is little they can do about it.

State BJP chief Vinay Katiyar said as much when he addressed party workers in Lucknow today.

“I have decided to keep quiet on the issue since the national leadership has asked law minister Arun Jaitley to look into the controversy of invoking Pota against political leaders,” he said.

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