Tension in Amethi as man who campaigned for BJP shot dead
Surendra Singh was sleeping on the verandah of his house when he was shot.
A former Amethi village head who campaigned for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha elections has been shot dead, police said on Sunday.
Irani attended the last rites of the 50-year-old and promised swift action against those involved in the killing.
Irani defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, his party’s traditional stronghold, in the general elections that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) swept, winning 353 of the 542 seats in the Lok Sabha.
BJP leader Surendra Singh, a former head of Barauliya village who actively participated in the party’s campaign in the constituency, was shot by bike-borne assailants outside his house on Saturday night, the police said. He was declared dead at a hospital later.
The police initially said they were looking into the possibility of personal enmity as the motive for the crime but the family of the deceased alleged that it was a political killing.
Rajesh Kumar, the superintendent of police in Amethi, said: “Singh was shot dead while he was sleeping in a verandah outside his house in Barauliya.” Kumar said the incident could not be ruled out to be a “political murder”. “All aspects are being probed. There can be old enmity as well,” he said.
Inspector at Jamo police station in Amethi, Rajeev Singh, said that in an FIR in the case, the victim’s brother said he spotted a Congress supporter near the scene of the crime. Director general of police OP Singh said seven suspects were detained in connection with the murder.
“We have found vital clues… We are confident of solving the case in the next 12 hours. Three companies of PAC [Provincial Armed Constabulary] have been deputed,” he said.
Irani, who was a minister in the Narendra Modi-led council of ministers in the first term of the National Democratic Alliance government, reached Amethi on Sunday afternoon and attended the last rites of the slain BJP leader. Irani and Uttar Pradesh minister Mohsin Raza helped carry the body of the deceased on their shoulders during the funeral.
“I have vowed before Surendra ji’s family that I will do everything it takes, even if it means going to the Supreme Court, to ensure punishment to those behind the killing,” Irani said.
The victim’s son, Abhay Pratap Singh, said he spotted his father lying near his cot when he rushed out of the house after a gunshot rang out. “I immediately realised that my father has been shot at. I rushed him to the district hospital in Rae Bareli from where he was referred to the King George’s Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow, where the doctors pronounced him dead,” he said.
“My father was a very humble man and had no enmity with anyone,” he said, adding that he recently had an argument with some Congress supporters.
The brother of the deceased, Rajendra Singh, alleged it was a political killing. He said his brother wielded influence in his village as well as in adjoining areas, which led to his murder.
Irani asked party workers to exercise restraint after attending the funeral. “My request to all party workers is that we should exercise restraint.” She said Singh was killed so that Amethi could be “terrorised and disintegrated”.
Congress spokesperson Zeeshan Haider said: “It is a law and order issue... Instead of making political allegations, the [UP] government should act, nab the accused, and give them the harshest of punishments.” Haider said Irani was indulging in politics over the killing.