For someone who had just lost her husband and whose body was still awaiting burial, Parveen Azad, a BDS final year student, looked remarkably composed. "I want a job for myself equivalent in stature to my slain husband's. Also for two of my family members as Zia was the only earning member of our large family," she told chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and senior minister Azam Khan who visited her on Monday at her Deoria village.
As the CM assured her that she would get a "better job", Azad betrayed traces of emotion. "We were newly married. But we didn't talk love. More often than not, he discussed how much pressure he used to face. Now after his death, I feel insecure so much more," she said. "I always feared for my husband whenever he went out. Till his return, I used to be nervous. I have lost not just my husband but also a dear friend. More importantly, it's the loss of a good human being who was a poet at heart," she said.
Surrounded by her visibly angry family and neighbours, she told the CM: "My husband often used to discuss how insecure he felt, especially after his posting in Kunda where as you know who rules."
With Yadav and Khan patiently hearing her, the widow blurted, "Arrest Raja Bhaiya, the local MLA. Nothing else would pacify or satisfy me." She said her husband had some inkling that he might be harmed. "On more than one occasion, he had said so to me. In fact I also thought of visiting the Janata Darbar to apprise the CM of the situation. But I held back thinking it would not reflect well on my husband's professional career," she said.
As the CM patiently heard her, she said: "I haven't had a morsel for the last 24 hours. I just had some water because I have to speak." She then spelt out eight demands -- that had obviously been written shortly before the CM's arrival.
The demands included, among other things, a payment of Rs 1 crore ex gratia to her and the family, a CBI inquiry into her husband's murder, Raja Bhaiya's arrest, security for her and the family and providing the postmortem examination report to them. The CM agreed to all of them.
Reminding the CM that it was painful to her that her husband's escort team had deserted him, she said, "You have just come here braving this angry crowd. But you have managed to do so because you have security and other paraphernalia. But imagine what would happen if this security were to desert you?" Yadav nodded. By this time, the widow had mellowed a bit, as she appeared more willing to listen to Yadav who repeatedly assured her that his government would extend her full security, job and financial compensation. "Whatever you need, just let me know," the CM told her.
By the time the CM left, the crowd too had calmed down a bit. In fact, some of them were even seen waving at Yadav as he and Khan boarded the chopper just before sunset.