In an incident with a whiff of political rivalry, four members of a family including a couple and their son were shot dead in broad daylight by unidentified assailants on Sunday near Kumhar Ka Gaon in Madhya Pradesh’s Jhansi district.
The site of the murder, along the inter-state border with Uttar Pradesh, is around 330 km from capital Bhopal.
The deceased have been identified as Brijesh Tiwari (45), his wife Baabli (42), their son Puneet (14) and nephew Bhaiya alias Hujju (20).
While Baabli was the sarpanch of Sindhu Sagar gram panchayat in Madhya Pradesh, her husband was secretary of a cooperative committee.
Neeraj Tiwari, nephew of Brijesh claimed that his uncle and aunt were receiving threats from a rival candidate who was defeated in the gram panchayat elections held just before the assembly election.
During the assembly elections, held in December last year, unidentified persons had also fired on Neeraj.
He said that a few days ago the couple had met chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan seeking security for themselves and the family.
Jhansi police said that the incident took place at around 4 pm when the four were travelling in a Hyundai I-20 to Kumhar Ka Gaon to attend a marriage ceremony.
DIG, Jhansi Range, VK Garg said the assailants were apparently tracking the movement of the family and waylaid the vehicle along a deserted stretch of the Jhansi-Tikamgarh road.
The assailants, their number not immediately known, then surrounded the vehicle and rained bullets on the occupants, continuing to fire till all were dead. Around 30 rounds were fired.
Garg said that empty cartridges of .315 and .312 bore rifles were recovered from the spot.
Apparently, the occupants of the vehicle were caught unawares and had no opportunity to escape, the police official added.
Villagers who rushed to the spot on hearing gunshots informed the police about the incident.
One of the first to reach the spot, Raja Ram, said that he saw the bloodied bodies lying in the vehicle. “There was blood everywhere, even on the road.”
The bodies were sent for post-mortem after police officials reached the spot.
Garg said a police team has been constituted and the border has been sealed to nab the killers.
IG (law and order) Amrendra Kumar Sengar said the senior superintendent of police, Jhansi has been directed to pursue the case vigorously.
“The chief minister had assured full security to my uncle and aunt. He had even directed police officer provide armed security guard to the couple. However, it was too late,” Neeraj told newspersons in Jhansi.