- The fight broke out at a meeting at a village in Ballia yesterday
- While BJP MLS’a aide escaped, his brother has been arrested
- Officials who were present during the shooting have been suspended
A day after a 46-year-old man was shot dead in broad daylight and in the presence of officials and policemen during an argument at a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia, a BJP MLA has defended the alleged shooter, claiming that he fired in “self-defence”.
Jaiprakash was shot dead at a meeting on allotment of ration shops held at village Durjanpur. According to witnesses, a fight erupted between him and Dhirendra Singh, a BJP worker said to be close to party MLA Surendra Singh. Dhirendra Singh, the chief of the BJP’s local ex-servicemen’s unit, allegedly fired three shots at Jaiprakash, triggering chaos and a near-stampede at the meeting held in a tent.
Dramatic visuals shared by news agency ANI show a large number of people on a field as the shots are fired. People are seen panicking and running frantically in the 5-second video. Dhirendra Singh escaped under the nose of policemen while his brother Devendra Singh has been arrested.
“I condemn the tragic incident but I also condemn the administration’s one-sided investigation. If Dhirendra Singh had not fired in self-defence, dozens from his family would have been killed. He had no other alternative except for marne aur maarne (dying or killing)” said Surendra Singh, the BJP MLA from the area.
It is not known yet whether the man who was killed, Jaiprakash, had a weapon as claimed by the MLA.
Mr Singh confirmed that Dhirendra Singh, his close aide, heads the BJP’s ex-servicemen’s unit in Ballia. Yesterday, the politician had said that an incident like this could happen anywhere. “This is a casualty that can happen anywhere. In this incident, there was stone-pelting from both sides. The law will take its own course,” the BJP legislator said.
A police case has been registered against 15 to 20 people on the complaint of the victim’s brother. Officials present during the shooting have been suspended, including a sub-divisional magistrate and a police officer.
“Taking serious note of the incident, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed that the SDM and police personnel present at the spot will all be suspended immediately and strictest action should be taken against the accused,” Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi said in Lucknow.
“The role of the officers shall be investigated and if responsible criminal action shall be taken,” he said.
The opposition Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have condemned the incident, calling it another example of “the death of law and order” in UP after recent incidents of rape and murder and the attack in Hathras on a young woman who died days later.
“It is clear from the Ballia incident and the assault on women and minors that law and order is dead in this state. It will be better if the state government pays attention to this. That is BSP’s advice,” said BSP leader Mayawati.
“The way a BJP worker escaped after shooting someone in the presence of the SDM and the police has exposed the reality of law and order in UP. Let’s see whether this ‘encounter government’ will overturn his car too,” Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav tweeted.