BALLIA/LUCKNOW: Police on Friday detained five people and arrested the brother of a local BJP leader who allegedly shot dead a 46-year-old man as a fracas broke out at a meeting attended by administration and police officials in Ballia in Uttar Pradesh.
As the opposition parties targeted the BJP government over the incident in the Reoti police station area, local party MLA Surendra Singh sought to defend accused Dhirendra Pratap Singh and said had he not opened fire in self-defence, "dozens of his family members and associates would have been killed".
The police administration admitted that there was prima facie "laxity" on its part and suspended nine policemen -- three sub-inspectors and six constables -- posted at 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.
Additional Director General (ADG) of Police Brij Bhushan visited the scene of crime in Durjanpur village on Friday, along with DIG Subhash Chandra Dubey, and said the incident was "unfortunate" and that strict action would be taken against all the accused.
The ADG said Narendra Pratap Singh, the brother of the main accused, has been arrested.
Narendra Pratap Singh has been named in an FIR, besides his brother and 22-25 unnamed persons.
A district police officer said raids are being conducted for the arrest of the accused persons.
The main accused is still on the run.
A brother of the deceased, however, alleged that the 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 firing, the police had caught him from behind. But they later took him to a nearby embankment and let him go," Tej Pratap Pal, the brother of the deceased, told reporters on Friday.
Tej Pratap Pal's brother Jai Prakash (46) was shot dead after the SDM decided not to go ahead with the meeting over allotment of ration shops due to a dispute between members of self-help groups.
Ballia District Magistrate Hari Pratap Shahi said the process of cancellation of arms licences of the accused persons was underway.
DIG Dubey told reporters that, prima facie, there was laxity on the part of the police.
Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Kumar Singh said the nine police personnel have been suspended.
Five people have been detained for questioning, he said, adding that raids are being conducted for the arrest of the accused.
Bairia MLA Surendra Singh confirmed that main accused Singh heads the BJP's ex-servicemen's unit in Ballia district.
He "opened fire in self-defence or else dozens of his family members and associates would have been killed. he had no other option. It was a do-or-die situation," the MLA told reporters in Ballia.
Surendra Singh, who has made controversial statements in the past, termed the firing incident as "unfortunate and sad" and accused the administration of bias.
The Opposition Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) attacked the Uttar Pradesh government over the incident.
BSP chief Mayawati said the incident in Ballia is "very worrisome" and that even now attacks on women and girls are happening every day.
It makes it clear that law and order is "almost dead" in the state, she added.
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."