Lucknow, March 3: A deputy superintendent of police was dragged and shot dead by a mob of alleged Samajwadi supporters in a village last night after the murder of a ruling party pradhan and his brother, prompting allegations of a collapse of law and order.
The police are yet to indicate the identity or motives of those behind the killings, which took place at Kunda in Pratapgarh district, about 170km from Lucknow.
DSP Ziaul Haque, 32, the circle officer of Kunda, had arrived at Balipur village at the head of a police team after headman Nanhe Lal Yadav, 43, and brother Surendra, 37, were gunned down at a tea shop around 8.30pm.
The double murder had started an immediate riot, said the additional director-general of police (law and order), Arun Kumar.
He said a mob of 200 armed Samajwadi supporters attacked and torched a part of the home of Yadav’s rival and former village chief Kamta Prasad Pal, whose supporters retaliated.
As bullets flew around in the darkness, Ziaul reached the spot but was surrounded by a Samajwadi mob, police sources said. He was dragged into the paddy fields around 10.30pm and his body, with a bullet wound in the head, was found an hour later. His service revolver was missing.
Ziaul’s sobbing father, Shamshul Haque, 72, told reporters at his native Deoria that his son was “a patriot and a fearless fighter” and demanded his killers be arrested. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced a relief of Rs 20 lakh.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader S.P. Maurya today alleged the triple murders “reflect the condition of law and order in the state”. BJP spokesperson V.B. Pathak deplored the “abysmal lack of administration in the state where ruling party members appear to be killing their own police”.
District superintendent of police A.K. Rai refused to identify those named in the FIR, saying: “Disclosure of names will affect the investigation.”
Kunda happens to be the constituency of Independent minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who faces multiple criminal cases and treats the area as his fief, and whose relations with Akhilesh are believed to be strained.
Locally, speculation was rife that the killings were related to a simmering rivalry between the loyalists of Raja Bhaiya and his rivals.
An “indisposed” Raja Bhaiya stayed indoors today, but his brother and former MP Akshay Pratap Singh dismissed such suggestions.
“The reason could be anything: a turf war, caste rivalry or land dispute. But it couldn’t have been a war between Raghuraj’s supporters and opponents: everyone here votes for him,” he said.