The UP Police claimed to have arrested three suspects in connection with the murder case of former village head of Baraulia in Amethi Surendra Singh, a close aide of BJP MP Smriti Irani, and recovered a weapon allegedly used in the incident. OP Singh, UP Director General of Police, said two more suspects are still absconding, but should be arrested soon.
“On the basis of all evidence, it is very clear that the five murder suspects and the victim had local level political rivalry,” he said.
Surendra Singh (50) was shot at around 11.30 pm on Saturday. Singh was referred to a Lucknow hospital, but succumbed during treatment, Additional Superintendent of Police Daya Ram said.
The police had lodged an FIR against five people and did not rule out the possibility of it being a "political murder".
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Smriti Irani asked party workers to exercise restraint, even as she targeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his "take-care-of-Amethi-with-love" remark, saying she had got the message "loud and clear".
"We have come to know about an old enmity. We are also trying to find out if there was any political enmity. The initial investigation has thrown up some vital clues," he told reporters in Lucknow.
"UP police teams are conducting a very intensive investigation. We have also got important evidence through electronic surveillance," the DGP said, adding that he was hopeful that the case would be solved "in the next 12 hours".
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had directed the DGP to take effective action and report back to him, a senior official said, adding that the inspector general in Lucknow was sent to monitor the situation.
"An FIR has been registered against five persons under sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on the complaint of Narendra Singh, brother of Surendra Singh," Daya Ram said.
In the FIR lodged at the Jamo police station in Amethi, the complainant said, "On the intervening night of May 25-26, my younger brother Surendra Singh was sleeping in the verandah of the house, along with nephews Abhay and Anurag, when we heard the sound of gunshots.
"As we woke up, we saw Wasim, his brother Nasim and Golu running away. Across the road, we saw Ramchandra. In this case, there is also a conspiracy of Dharamnath Gupta (related to the panchayat polls). Ramchandra was involved in a scuffle with one of my nephews during the Lok Sabha polls, due to which the incident took place."
When contacted, Jamo Station House Officer (SHO) Rajeev Singh said, "Wasim, Nasim Golu and Ramchandra have been booked under section 302, IPC. Dharamnath Gupta has been booked for conspiracy charges. Investigations are going on."
Irani, who was in Delhi, flew down to Lucknow en route to Amethi, where she met Singh's family members and consoled them. The BJP leader and state minister Mohsin Raza were present when Singh's last rites were performed. A large number of people was also present on the occasion.
Both Irani and Raza were seen carrying Singh's body amidst chanting of slogans by villagers.
"My request to all party workers is that we should exercise restraint," Irani told reporters in Lucknow.
She said Singh was killed so that Amethi could be "terrorised, disintegrated and bowed down".
"On (May) 23, I was given a message that take care of Amethi with love. To the person, who gave me the message, I would like to say that I have received the message loud and clear," she said, referring to Gandhi's remarks made on the counting day.
In the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls, Irani defeated the Congress president from Amethi, a Gandhi family bastion.
(With PTI inputs)