A former village head said to be close to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani was allegedly shot dead in Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh, PTI reported on Sunday, quoting the police.
Fifty-year-old Surendra Singh was shot at by two unidentified persons around 11.30 pm on Saturday, Additional Superintendent of Police Daya Ram said. He was sent to Lucknow in a serious condition and succumbed to his injuries. An investigation is under way.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath asked the police to show results within 12 hours. The Lucknow Police chief is overseeing the investigation. So far, seven people have been taken into custody. Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh told ANI that police have found vital clues. “We are confident of solving the case in the next 12 hours,” he said. The motive of the assailants is not known yet.
Irani, who reached Amethi on Sunday, attended Singh’s funeral and was also one of the pall-bearers, NDTV reported. She asked party workers to “exercise restraint”. “My request is to all party workers is that we should exercise restraint,” she told the media, PTI reported.
The newly-elected MP said she will personally ensure that Singh’s culprits get death penalty, according to ANI. “I’ve taken an oath before Surendra Singh ji’s family, the one who fired & the one who ordered it, even if I have to go SC to get the culprits a death sentence, we will knock the doors of the court,” she said.
Irani also criticised Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his message to her on counting day of the Lok Sabha elections. “On [May] 23, I was given a message that take care of Amethi with love,” she said. “To the person, who gave me the message, I would like to say that I have received the message loud and clear.”
Irani was elected the parliamentarian from Amethi constituency in the recently-concluded General Elections, replacing three-time MP and Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Irani won the Gandhi family bastion by over 55,000 votes.
Singh was the former head of Baraulia village, where Irani was accused of distributing shoes to residents during the election campaign, PTI reported. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had claimed that Irani was distributing the footwear to insult Rahul Gandhi. Residents claimed that Singh was involved in the distribution of the shoes.
Singh’s son told ANI that his father was a close aide of Irani and had campaigned for her throughout the Lok Sabha poll campaign. “After she became MP, vijay yatra [victory procession] was carried out,” he added. “I think some Congress supporters did not like it. We have suspicions about some people.”
Rajesh Agrahari, the BJP’s convenor of the Amethi Lok Sabha seat, told PTI that a high-level inquiry is necessary. “Considering the fact that the Congress is disappointed, especially after the defeat of its party president in Amethi, a high-level probe should be ordered, and the guilty should be punished,” he said. Agrahari admitted that Singh and other BJP leaders distributed shoes during the election campaign.
Amethi Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said that the likelihood of the crime being a political murder “cannot be ruled out”.
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said, according to PTI: “The death of a party worker is indeed very sad and unfortunate. He was a hard worker. Even if his killers are hiding below the ground, they will be caught. The entire Amethi is sad over the incident.”