Union minister Smriti Irani on Sunday helped carry the body of her close aide in Amethi, Surendra Singh, who was shot dead late on Saturday, for his final rites. Unidentified miscreants had opened fire on the former Baraulia village head while he was asleep on the veranda outside his home. The incident took place hours after Singh held a victory rally for the newly-elected MP in Amethi.
Singh is believed to have worked closely with Irani and was part of the BJP team that did the ground work in Amethi ahead of the elections. Irani reportedly identified him as a key party worker. Singh had quit the post of village head to participate in the BJP election campaign.
— ANI (@ANI) May 26, 2019
The news of Singh's murder comes days after Irani was declared the winner of the Lok Sabha election from Amethi. She wrested the traditional Congress bastion from Rahul, winning by a margin of 55,120 votes.
Director General of Uttar Pradesh Police OP Singh said seven suspects had been detained for questioning in connection with the murder
Motive behind murder unclear
The motive behind his murder is unclear at the moment. The police are looking into multiple angles, including whether it is a case of old enmity and whether miscreants took advantage of the election climate to settle old scores.
Singh was killed in the jurisdiction of the Jamo Police Station. Reports said investigators have not ruled out political rivalry as a motive. The situation on the ground is peaceful and an investigation is underway, but police teams have been deployed in Amethi's Barauli village to stave off any untoward incident.
The BJP worker's son told reporters that his father used to campaign 24/7 for Smriti Irani. "After she became an MP, a 'vijay yatra' was held. I think some Congress supporters didn't like it. We have suspicions on some people," he said.
A relative, Chandrapal Singh, claimed: "This is a political murder. This is a fallout of political rivalries related to his tenure as village head and the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections."
After he was shot at, Singh was taken to a district hospital for treatment, where doctors referred him to a Lucknow hospital. He succumbed to his gunshot wounds at the trauma centre of the Lucknow hospital.
The police are conduction searches and speaking to villagers, as part of the investigation, News18 reported.
Baraulia was in the news during campaigning for the Lok Sabha election, as Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had accused Irani of distributing shoes to villagers in a bid to insult party chief Rahul Gandhi. Locals claim Singh was involved in this exercise of distributing shoes.
'High-level probe should be ordered'
Expressing grief over Singh's death, Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said: "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 whole of Amethi is sad."
Senior BJP leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who won from the Allahabad Lok Sabha seat, called the killing "unacceptable". "Such an act in a democracy is completely unacceptable. There is no place for such things. The perpetrators will be punished," she told ANI.
BJP convenor for the Amethi Lok Sabha seat Rajesh Agrahari said: "Considering 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."
"Surendra Singh was a popular and active grassroots-level leader and a close aide of MP Smriti Irani. He and other party leaders were actively involved in the distribution of shoes," he added.
Former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar had adopted Singh's Baraulia village in September 2015, as part of the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, a scheme launched by the Centre for rural development. Rs 15 crore was sanctioned for the development of the village. Reports said the circulation of large sums of money is an angle investigators are looking into.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: May 26, 2019 16:03:58 IST