The Uttar Pradesh Police on Wednesday filed a first information report in the alleged fake encounter of a 28-year-old man from Jhansi district’s Karguwan village earlier this week as the Samajwadi Party targeted the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, The Indian Express reported. However, details of the FIR have not been made public yet.

Pushpendra Yadav, his brother Ravinder Yadav and cousin Vipin Yadav allegedly fired at Moth police station’s Station House Officer Dharmender Chauhan on October 6 as he had reportedly seized their truck the week before. According to the police, Pushpendra Yadav was involved in illegal mining. The police have filed another FIR against Ravinder Yadav and Vipin Yadav, alleging that the three men were cornered hours after the initial shooting and Pushpendra Yadav was shot dead after a brief shootout while the other two escaped.

Immediately after the killing, Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Chandrapal Singh Yadav alleged that the encounter was staged, and demanded the registration of murder charges in an FIR and an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Former Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav visited Puspendra Yadav’s family on Wednesday, Hindustan Times reported. “The police theory is not believable,” he told reporters. “No one is buying the theories being given out by the Jhansi administration. It was a not an encounter but a murder. No one is safe in UP where the chief minister openly encourages the police to be trigger-happy.”

At a press conference on Thursday, Akhilesh Yadav lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party. “I do not know where these ultra-nationalists are taking us,” The Indian Express quoted the former chief minister as saying. “They have used Pakistan as an excuse to take votes from us. They removed Article 370 and imprisoned Kashmiris, but has terrorism stopped? France has sold us Rafale fighter planes, America sold Pakistan F-16 jets. They are making us fight each other.”

Taking a dig at the BJP, he added: “This is Nathu Rajya, not Ram Rajya.” It was a reference to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.

The Jhansi Police had cremated Pushpendra Yadav’s body on Monday even as his family refused to perform the final rites, demanding that a murder case be filed against police personnel involved in the shootout. “By forcibly performing the last rites of Puspendra Yadav, the BJP government has proved it can go up to any extent to save murder accused (SHO),” the Samajwadi Party tweeted in response. “We demand lodging of an FIR under section 302 (murder) against the SHO and a probe into the case by a sitting high court judge.”

Pushpendra Yadav’s father Harishchander Yadav, a former Central Industrial Security Force constable, on Wednesday alleged that the police took away his son’s body forcefully and asked him not to lower police morale. “They burnt his body by locking the gates of the crematorium,” he added. “He was cremated in secret.”

Pushpendra Yadav’s wife Shivangi, who married him three months ago, claimed that the police had asked for a huge penalty from her husband. “The SHO impounded his truck and asked for Rs 1 lakh,” she alleged. “My husband paid the amount in cash and the SHO did not give him back the truck. He demanded Rs 50,000 more. My husband left to buy medicines for his mother and get his truck back. He was killed by the SHO because of this. He has no criminal record.”

Meanwhile, Ravinder Yadav has told The Indian Express that he was on a 10-hour shift at the JLN Stadium metro station in Delhi at the time of the alleged incident. “I am a constable with the CISF,” he said. “I got a call saying my brother shot at an SHO. I applied for my leave and rushed back home. Then I got to know I am an accused. I was never there. If I was, they would have arrested me.”

Assistant Superintendent of Police, Jhansi, Rahul Mithas said Ravinder Yadav’s name would be removed if he was not there. “There will be a magisterial inquiry into the police conduct as well,” the police officer added. “This is all part of an investigation. If the police officers are found at fault then action will be taken.”

A news report published earlier this year claimed that the state police conducted more than 3,000 encounters between March 2017 and July 2018, in which 78 alleged criminals were killed. Chief Minister Adityanath, who took charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state on March 19, 2017, has advocated a strong-arm approach to law enforcement.

On January 11, human rights experts at the United Nations expressed concern about reports of extrajudicial killings in Uttar Pradesh since March 2017. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said these experts sent detailed information to the Indian government about 15 such cases, most of which involved poor Muslims. “They have yet to receive a response to their letter,” the UN office added in a statement. Three days later, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Adityanath government on a petition seeking a court-monitored inquiry into the encounters, calling it a “very serious matter”.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.