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Akhilesh sees relief in CBI

Lucknow, July 28: The Akhilesh Yadav government today handed over to the CBI a rape-and-murder probe in spite of police claims of a breakthrough, seeking to blunt Opposition attacks over spiralling crimes and allegations by the victim’s family of a shoddy investigation.

Some in the Uttar Pradesh police brass, embarrassed after a team headed by a Bengali lady IPS officer arrested a suspect in just two days, said the chief minister had “played safe”.

The case involved the brutal rape and murder of a 32-year-old widow left to die naked and bleeding from stab wounds earlier this month near Lucknow.

“The chief minister was facing immense public pressure. He has played safe politically by ordering a CBI probe. We are still sure that our stand will be validated as in the Badaun case,” a senior officer said, referring to the probe into the rape and murder of two Dalit sisters that was also given to the CBI.

In this case, relatives of the widow have been on a fast for the past few days, alleging that a security guard arrested in the case wasn’t the only culprit as the woman was gang-raped.

They have claimed other holes too. One is the initial investigation and post-mortem report which said that while there were “assaults on private parts of the victim, there was no sexual intercourse on her by her predator”. Yesterday, forensic experts from a Centre-run lab sent a report that confirmed rape, prompting the relatives and the Opposition, mainly the BJP, to allege a botched probe.

Naresh Agarwal, Akhilesh’s Samajwadi colleague and Rajya Sabha MP, said: “Uttar Pradesh police were conducting the investigation in the right direction. However, the government decided to act on the demands of the victim’s relatives for a CBI investigation.”

The body of the widow, a mother of two, was found on the compound of a school in Mohanlalganj, 30km from here, on July 17. The next day, the case was assigned to Sutapa Sanyal, an additional director-general rank officer who heads the police’s women’s cell.

Two days later, on July 20, Sanyal’s team picked up Ram Sevak, 35, a guard with a construction company. The team claimed he stole the cellphone of a real estate agent the victim knew, called her impersonating the acquaintance, “assaulted” her and killed her when she tried to fight back.

Today, senior superintendent of police Praveen Kumar, who was part of Sanyal’s team, said the CBI probe order “doesn’t mean we did not do our job well”.

Some retired officers said if mistakes were eventually found in the probe, it could be because of a push for quick breakthroughs from a government facing Opposition and public pressure. “Akhilesh has played safe, as he did in the Badaun case. But the CBI can’t be pressured to solve the case in two days,” said K.L. Sharma, a retired DIG.