Ballia firing: BJP leader’s brother among two arrested

TPE Correspondent

New Delhi October 17th

Police on Friday arrested two people including the brother of a local BJP leader who allegedly shot dead a man when a fracas broke out at a meeting attended by administration and police officials in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district. Five others were detained but till Friday night the main accused was yet to be arrested. As opposition parties targeted the state’s BJP government, local party MLA Surendra Singh defended him.

“Dhirendra Pratap Singh opened fire in self-defence or else dozens of his family and associates would have been killed, the Bairia MLA told reporters. “He had no other option. It was a do-or-die situation for him,” Surendra Singh said. Police said they are trying to track down the main accused, who heads the district unit of the BJP’s ex-servicemen cell.

Police admitted that there appeared to be “laxity” on their part and suspended nine personnel — three sub-inspectors and six constables — posted at the Reoti police station. Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Suresh Chandra Pal and circle officer of police Chandrakesh Singh were suspended on the directions of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath soon after the incident on Thursday.

Accused Dhirendra Pratap Singh, in a video that has gone viral on social media, blamed the SDM, CO and police of ignoring his request to deploy police personnel during the meeting and claimed that one of his family members died in the incident while eight were injured.

The accused also said that he served the Army for 18 years and that day he only tried to save his family as he saw his 80-year-old father and sister-in-law being attacked in presence of administration officials.

The meeting at Durjanpur village was over the allotment of ration shops. Jai Prakash (46) was shot dead in a fracas after the SDM decided not to go ahead with it due to a dispute between members of self-help groups.

Additional Director General (ADG) of Police Brij Bhushan on Friday visited the scene of the crime along with Deputy Inspector General Subhash Chandra Dubey, and said the incident was “unfortunate” and strict action would be taken against all the accused.

The ADG said Narendra Pratap Singh, the brother of the main accused, has been arrested. “Besides Narendra, one Devendra Pratap Singh was also arrested in the case. So far, two people have been arrested and five detained,” Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Yadav later said.

Narendra Pratap Singh and his absconding brother were named in the FIR, which also mentions 22-25 unnamed people. Victim’s brother Tej Pratap Pal alleged that police let off the main accused.

“There were 10 policemen on the spot. They were saving the culprits and beating us. When Dhirendra Pratap Singh was fleeing after the firing, police caught him from behind. But they later took him to a nearby embankment and let him go,” he told reporters.

ASP Yadav said the five people have been detained for questioning and raids are being conducted to arrest the accused. Bairia MLA Surendra Singh, who claimed the main accused acted in self-defence, said the incident is “unfortunate and sad”. He also accused the administration of bias.

District Magistrate Hari Pratap Shahi said the process of cancellation of the accused’s arms licences was underway. The opposition Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party attacked the Uttar Pradesh government. BSP chief Mayawati called the incident “very worrisome”.

Referring to other recent cases, she said attacks on women and girls are happening every day and law and order is “almost dead” in the state. In a tweet in Hindi, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said, “The truth of the law and order of Uttar Pradesh has been exposed with a leader of the ruling BJP in Ballia openly killing a man in front of the SDM and CO.”

“Now let’s see if the government of encounters also gets the vehicle of its own people overturned,” he added, in a reference to police killing alleged gangster Vikas Dubey in July when he tried to flee from a car which they said had overturned in an accident.

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