An avowed witness to the violent death of an Uttar Pradesh journalist has recanted a previous statement, saying the social media commentator was not burnt alive by police at the behest of a minister and he immolated himself to escape arrest.
The woman told authorities on Tuesday that her friend Jagendra Singh set himself on fire when police raided his house in connection with a case registered against him this month.
A video of Singh’s final moments sent shock waves across India after the journalist said in his dying declaration he was set ablaze by local police personnel for publishing allegations of corruption and land grabs against state minister Ram Murti Singh Verma.
The woman, an anganwadi worker, had supported Singh’s statement before the media minutes after he succumbed to his injuries on June 8, while she had alleged that police personnel tried to pour petrol over her but she managed to escape.
She had last month also accused minister Verma and some of his associates of raping her at a government guesthouse, while Singh pushed her cause on social media.
But she disappeared soon after the journalist’s death, only to surface on Monday evening.
Police recorded her statement the next day and she was also taken to court on Wednesday where her testimony was documented.
Singh’s family has been demanding a CBI probe in the case, while the state government this week suspended five policemen suspected to be involved in the incident following public outrage.