Smriti Irani aide murdered in Amethi hours after holding 'Vijay Yatra'; son claims rally angered Congress supporters

Amethi: A former village headman of Barauli in Amethi, Surendra Pratap Singh, was shot dead by unidentified assailants late on Saturday. Amethi is the constituency from where BJP leader Smriti Irani won the Lok Sabha election recently, defeating Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

Amethi’s Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said a few suspects have been detained by the police in connection with the murder of the 50-year-old former village head.

"The police received information that some people had opened fire on the Surendra Pratap Singh. They reached the spot soon after and took the victim to the district hospital along with his family members. Singh was then referred to the Lucknow Trauma Centre as he had sustained bullet injuries (where he succumbed to his gunshot wounds). The police are investigating the case, and soon, the culprits will be behind bars," he said, adding that investigators have not ruled out political rivalry as a motive behind the murder.

 Smriti Irani aide murdered in Amethi hours after holding Vijay Yatra; son claims rally angered Congress supporters

Smriti Irani carrying the mortal remains of her slain aide Surendra Singh. Image sourced by Saurabh Sharma/101Reporters

Uttar Pradesh's Director General of Police (DGP) OP Singh said six to seven suspects had been detained for interrogation in the case, also pointing out that Singh had a strained relationship with the police. According to reports, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has also asked the police to crack this case in 12 hours.

"Prima facie, it seems to be a case of family or personal enmity, but it is too early to jump to conclusions. The DGP's office is monitoring the matter, and the police will crack the case soon," he added.

Singh was considered a close aide of Irani and had campaigned for her extensively during the Lok Sabha elections. He is believed to have played a vital role in Irani's exercise to distribute shoes to the residents of Barauli village, which was an attempt to ridicule former Amethi lawmaker and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

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.

Did Vijay Yatra trigger Singh's killing?

Abhay Pratap Singh, the son of the deceased, has alleged that many Congress supporters were outraged by the fact that his father had played a key role in Irani's win from Amethi. He said Singh had worked very closely with the BJP leader for the past five to six years.

"We have suspicions on a few people. My father carried out a 'Vijay Yatra' after Smriti Irani ji won the elections. I think some people who were Congress supporters did not like this," he claimed.

The victim's cousin Dheerendra Pratap Singh said he had received the news of the former Barauli village head's death from other family members, adding that he had rushed to his cousin's house after he was shot at around 3 am (on Sunday).

"By the time I reached, the family members had taken Surendra to hospital and nobody knew who shot had him. He had returned at night after celebrating the win of Smriti Irani ji and was sleeping in the veranda, where he was sprayed with bullets. This is what I know through the family. This could be a case of a political rivalry," he alleged.

Irani's representative in Amethi Vijay Gupta claimed Singh was targeted by "enemies because he had worked very hard" for the BJP leader in the constituency.

"Didi (Smriti Irani) has been informed about this, and she has expressed her condolences. The BJP family stands with the grieving family and will try its best to get justice," he added.

Meanwhile, the district police have deployed a heavy posse of forces in Barauli to prevent any kind of unrest in the wake of Singh's murder.

Political rivalry in Uttar Pradesh during Lok Sabha elections

Last Friday, Vijay Yadav alias Pappu, was shot dead outside his house allegedly by three unidentified persons at Salarpur village in Ghazipur district. The 44-year-old was a district panchayat member and also a private contractor.

Protesting against his death, Ghazipur MP-elect Afzal Ansari participated in a sit-in protest last Saturday and demanded a compensation of Rs 1 crore for his family, also accusing the police of inaction.

On 14 May, unidentified men had attacked Congress' Raebaraeli Sadar MLA Aditi Singh while she was on her way to the district panchayat's office, where a no-confidence motion against panchayat head Avadhesh Singh was scheduled. Aditi Singh had later alleged that Avadesh Singh's henchmen, armed with iron rods and bricks, had attacked her vehicle, due to which the driver lost control and her car overturned.

A day later, Shiva Singh, a close aide of BJP leader Dinesh Singh, who contested against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi from Raebaraeli, was murdered.

The district administration had said both were separate incidents and had dismissed speculations of a gang war resulting from poll rivalries.

Senior political commentator Vivek Vikram Singh said the former village head's murder in Amethi did not look like a case of poll rivalry, claiming it could be a matter of personal enmity instead.

"This region does not have a history of bloodbath due to election rivalry. Surendra Singh was a gem of a person who worked very hard during the election for Smriti Irani. He has always been known in the area for his humble nature. This incident has outraged BJP workers in the district," he added.

The Amethi Police have yet to register an FIR in connection with this case.

BJP's Keshav Prasad Maurya also tweeted on the BJP worker's death.

With inputs from Asgar Naqvi

The author is a Lucknow-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com

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Updated Date: May 27, 2019 08:07:22 IST