The BJP on Tuesday accused the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh of promoting lawlessness in the state following the death of a journalist’s mother, who was allegedly set ablaze at a police station in Barabanki.
State BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai said the incident was shameful and reflected the reality of the UP government’s “1090 Women Powerline” — a telephone number maintained by the state for women in distress.
“The Barabanki incident is a scar on the forehead of the Uttar Pradesh government and police. It has shown the truth about the 1090 service of UP police. When the police inspector and sub-inspector try to misbehave with a woman inside a police station and upon failing to do so, burn her alive, there is no significance of the 1090 service,” he said.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. “Strictest action will be taken against the culprits,” he said.
Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, Barkha Shukla, on Tuesday demanded action against the accused policemen, both of whom have been suspended already.
Before she died on Monday night, the middle-aged anganwadi worker had charged the police station in-charge and sub-inspector with setting her ablaze when she refused to give them R1 lakh to free her husband who was picked up for questioning in a harassment case.
Police said she immolated herself and died at a Lucknow hospital. But the woman’s statements before a magistrate and media — her son is associated with a Hindi daily — says she was abused and humiliated when she refused to pay the bribe.
Her husband rejected reports that she had self-immolated. “She gave a dying declaration … she was ill-treated and misbehaved. No reason why she would set herself ablaze,” he said.
The opposition BJP said police have found a new way to deal with dissent. “A similar incident happened in Shahjahanpur. The police are supposed to be the protector of society but are themselves the reason for fear” party leader Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.
The incident comes barely a month after journalist Jagendra Singh was set on fire allegedly by some UP policemen in Shahjahanpur district. Singh’s family had lodged a police complaint against UP minister Ram Murti Verma and five others, including policemen.
(With inputs from agencies)