LUCKNOW: While the Yogi Adityanath government was busy crowing about its 100-day achievements, the law and order situation touched a new low in Uttar Pradesh with the lynching of five men in an SUV in Rae Bareli district, some 100 km from the state capital.
The details of the massacre were gruesome: a dispute over a piece of land goes out of hand; tempers flare and gunshots are fired; a high-speed chase ensues, the fleeing quarry in an SUV, the hunters on motorcycles, wielding staves and carrying petrol cans. Then the careening SUV runs into an electric pole and stops.
Three men are pulled out and beaten to death. The car is set ablaze and two men are trapped inside and burn to death. Only one man, the driver, manages to flee.
The lynchings took place near a village called Apta in the Unchahar area of Rae Bareli. The man at the centre of the day's drama, and one of the victims was Rohit Shukla, a 38-year-old former pradhan of Tevara village in neighbouring Pratapgarh district.
He was getting a house constructed in the Unchahar area in adjoining Rae Bareli district but barely 35 m from his present residence. When Shukla visited the site Monday evening, he was told by the construction workers there that they were being threatened by one Raja Yadav of Apta village.
Raja Yadav's claim was that the building was coming up illegally on a land belonging to the gram sabha.
Raju Yadav is the son of Ram Shree Yadav, the woman pradhan of Apta village.
To 'settle' the dispute, Rohit Shukla drove in his SUV to Raja Yadav’s residence in Apta. With him in the car were his friends Brijendra Shukla, Narendra, Ankush Mishra, Anoop Mishra and the driver Manish.
The confrontation quickly turned ugly with an exchange of expletives. In the heat of the moment, Shukla pulled out his gun and fired in the air. A large crowd of villagers gathered at the spot in Raja Yadav’s support.
Sensing trouble, Shukla and his five friends got into their SUV and drove away. but they were chased by a frenzied mob on motorbikes.
After a pursuit of 2 km, the driver Manish lost control of the wheel and the vehicle collided with an electric pole after hitting a passerby.
The mob of cane-wielding villagers caught up with them and dragged out three occupants of the car and beat them up.
Bleeding profusely, Rohit Shukla, Brijendra and Narendra died on the spot. Anoop and Ankush were trapped in the car, now doused with petrol and ignited. They burnt to death inside.
Only Manish, the driver, managed to flee.
As police were informed, senior officials including the district magistrate and the superintendent of police rushed to the spot. Raja Yadav, his brother and two others were arrested.
The officer in charge of the Unchahar police station, Surkhab Khan said an FIR has been lodged against Raja Yadav and others under Indian Penal Code sections 147, 148, 149, 307 and 302 and Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act.
Senior officials including the inspector-general Jai Narain Singh of the Lucknow range visited the spot.
Deputy superintendent of police S P Upadhyay said six persons, including Raja Yadav’s three sons have been detained.
A huge contingent of the police was deployed in the area to avert an escalation of violence.