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Husband’s anger and agony

Lucknow, March 30: Meher Bhargava’s husband Luv lunged at Sunny Rawat, 19, when he was brought to his house by policemen last night for identification.

But after driver Ganga Ram identified Sunny as the man who had shot his wife, the Congress leader broke down in tears. “Please take him away from me,” he told the policemen.

Meher, 50, a socialite, was shot last month after she confronted youths who had passed lewd comments at her daughter-in-law. She died in a Delhi hospital last week.

Meher and Luv, who is in his 50s and has a real estate and garments business, had been married for about 17 years. It was a second marriage for her, sources said. Meher had a son, Shiraz, from her first marriage and another son and a daughter with Luv.

Sunny, the son of a small-time farmer from Jaunpur who came to Lucknow to study, was arrested yesterday from the Kaiserbagh area.

This afternoon, he was presented to the media at the residence of senior superintendent of police, Lucknow, Ashutosh Pandey, where he confessed: “Yes, it was I who pulled the trigger on Meher.”

But when he was produced in court later, Sunny’s lawyer said the “confession” was made under “duress”. He has been sent to judicial custody till April 13.

In front of the media, he had said: “Meher had an altercation with Pramod Singh, one of our friends who had passed lewd comments at her daughter-in-law. We were all drunk. We were angry at the audacity of a woman to protest against us.”

The youths had been drinking in an apartment rented to Samajwadi Party leader K.D. Singh by the Bhargavas. Shiraz and his wife lived on the ground floor in the same building.

Initially, the friends had decided to keep quiet. “But the lady kept on protesting and threatened to take all of us to the police. We were divided among us on whether to retaliate or apologise and settle the issue,” Sunny said.

At first Sachin Pahari, a key accused who gave police the slip yesterday, wanted to hit back but then changed his mind and decided to apologise, he added. Pahari knew Shiraz well, sources said.

“Pahari told us he was going to apologise. We were against this. I was angry and fuming. I had a gun and I fired,” Sunny said. Pandey said earlier Sunny had claimed that Pahari shot Meher.

The police have made four arrests so far. Pramod and Jai Prakash were the first to be held, and Sunny and Sanjay Menon were caught yesterday. Sanjay, whose younger brother Vijay was shot dead in a police encounter two months ago, had provided shelter to Pahari, the police said.

A criminal from Mumbai identified as Asif Chikna, who was picked up today from Kaiserbagh and is another suspect, is being interrogated, the police added.

The Bhargava family today said Sunny was called Amit Singh by his accomplices. “My wife used to refer to one Amit Singh. Now, it appears, the gang members used to refer to Sunny as Amit. Maybe that is how my wife came to hear the name Amit,” Luv said.

Yesterday, the police had said Pahari was the main accused and that he was also known as Amit. But Luv said his wife had told him Pahari and Amit were two different persons and that Amit had pulled the trigger.

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