BSP leader, two others die in Azamgarh violence

Lucknow, July 19 (IANS) BSP leader and former legislator Sarvesh Singh was shot dead Friday with his guard at Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, sparking violence that left a businessman dead allegedly in police firing.

Hundreds of supporters of Sarvesh Singh alias Sippi took to the streets screaming anti-government slogans, attacking police posts and setting fire to scores of vehicles following the killing of Sarvesh Singh.

As the violence spread, shops and businesses got closed across the town, about 270 km from Lucknow.

Police initially said the killers barged into his house and opened fire at the Bahujan Samaj Party leader, who was earlier in the Samajwadi Party, and his guard Bharat Rai, killing both instantly.

But it later transpired that three men on a motorcycle fired at Sarvesh Singh and Bharat Rai a few metres away from a police station.

His supporters accused a police inspector of summoning him to the police station. Sarvesh Singh was shot dead while returning home.

Unable to control the mobs, police fired at the crowd, killing a businessman, Jitendra Gupta, witnesses said. Two civilians, including a journalist were injured.

But police insisted that Gupta was not killed in their firing. Inspector General of Police R.K. Vishwakarma said the autopsy will confirm the exact cause of Gupta's death.

A dozen policemen were reportedly injured in brickbatting. The violence subsided later but tension prevailed in the town.

Sarvesh Singh was a Samajwadi Party legislator in 2007 but quit it when Amar Singh was expelled. His father Ram Pyare Singh was a minister in the former Mulayam Singh Yadav government.

Late in the evening, the family of the slain legislator and others squatted on the roads with the bodies and refused to hand them over to the police for post-mortem.

They demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Police believe the killing may have been ordered by mafia don Puttu Singh, now lodged in a Varanasi jail.

After his father's death, Sarvesh Singh contested from Sagdi assembly seat in 2007 and won.

BSP chief Mayawati gave him the party ticket from Sadar and fielded his brother from Sagadi last year. Both lost.

Sarvesh Singh had petitioned the police about threats to his life. He was given security for a brief period but that was withdrawn later.

Owing to the tension in Azamgarh, additional forces have been rushed from Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Gorakhpur and other neighbouring districts.

BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui told IANS that the "worst fears" of his party were turning true.

"Our party leader Mayawati has said that criminals are ruling the roost in the state and that nobody is safe," he said.

Political parties said the killing was proof that Uttar Pradesh was in the grip of "jungle raj".

State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Laxmikant Bajpai warned that the Samajwadi Party regime would pay for the law and order mess in the next election.

"Rapes have become the order of the day. Gang wars are taking place, and now even senior politicians are being killed in broad daylight," Bajpai told IANS.

BSP's Swamy Prasad Maurya said it was the "misfortune of the people of Uttar Pradesh" that the state had such "a pathetic government".


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