A 46-year-old man was shot dead in the presence of state officials and the police when a fight broke out at a meeting at a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia yesterday.
The police say Jaiprakash was shot dead by Dhirendra Singh, a BJP worker said to be close to party MLA Surendra Singh. While Dhirendra Singh escaped, his brother Devendra Singh has been arrested.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has suspended officials who were present during the shooting.
The shooting, which has been caught on camera, led to a stampede. Dramatic visuals shared by news agency ANI show a large number of people on a field as three shots are fired. People are seen panicking and running frantically in the 5-second video.
The meeting had been called in Durjanpur village on the allotment of ration shops. A row erupted between those who had gathered for the meeting held in a tent, senior police officer Devendra Nath told news agency PTI.
MLA Surendra Singh confirmed that the man who fired the shot heads the BJP’s ex-servicemen’s unit in Ballia. He also claimed that the accused fired in “self-defence”, and alleged a “one-sided investigation”.
“The incident is unfortunate and tragic. I also condemn the administration’s one-sided investigation… Dozens from Dhirendra Singh’s family would have been killed had he not fired in self-defence,” the MLA said today.
Yesterday, Surendra Singh had said that such an incident “can happen anywhere.”
“This is a casualty that can happen anywhere. In this incident, there was stone-pelting from both sides. The law will take its own course.”
A police case has been registered against 15 to 20 people on the complaint of the victim’s brother.
The sub-divisional magistrate, a top police official and others have been suspended.
“Taking serious note of the incident, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed that the SDM and police personnel present at the spot will all be suspended immediately and strictest action should be taken against the accused,” Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi said in Lucknow.
“The role of the officers shall be investigated and if responsible criminal action shall be taken,” he said.
The opposition Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have condemned the incident, calling it another example of “the death of law and order” in UP after recent incidents of rape and murder and the attack in Hathras on a young woman who died days later.
“It is clear from the Ballia incident and the assault on women and minors that law and order is dead in this state. It will be better if the state government pays attention to this. That is BSP’s advice,” said BSP leader Mayawati.
“The way a BJP worker escaped after shooting someone in the presence of the SDM and the police has exposed the reality of law and order in UP. Let’s see whether this ‘encounter government’ will overturn his car too,” Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav tweeted.