The killing of a youth in an alleged police encounter in Jhansi took a political turn after his family as well as the Samajwadi Party accused the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh police of murdering him.
While SP president Akhilesh Yadav is scheduled to visit the house of the deceased person’s family on October 9, the youth Pushpendra Yadav was cremated by the police late on October 7 after his family refused to take his body till a murder case is lodged against the officer who shot him.
Additional Superintendent of Police, Jhansi, Rahul Mithas said the body was cremated in the presence of a magistrate after the family refused to receive it till as late as 8 p.m. on October 7. “The body was decomposing,” Mr. Mithas said.
The family members have been sitting in protest after Pushpendra Yadav was shot dead by police on the intervening night of October 5 and 6. They questioned the police version and termed the encounter a “cold-blooded murder”.
According to the police, station house officer of Moth, Dharmendra Singh Chauhan, had on September 29 seized a truck belonging to Pushpendra in an alleged illegal mining case. On the night of October 5, Mr. Chauhan, who was returning to Jhansi from Kanpur in his private car after two days’ leave, received a call from Pushpendra regarding his seized truck. Mr. Chauhan then reached the Bamrauli intersection to meet Pushpendra, who then allegedly shot at the officer as soon as he rolled down his window pane.
The bullet grazed Mr. Chauhan’s chin, said Jhansi SSP Om Prakash Singh, adding that the attackers drove away from the scene in his car but left behind their motorcycle for unknown reasons.
Pushpendra and his two associates were later intercepted some distance away, police said. While he was shot and later pronounced dead, the other two escaped, the police added.
The deceased’s brother, Ravindra Yadav, however, rejected the police version and called the encounter “fake”.
“This is murder. They shot him on the spot. He didn’t even own a country-pistol or had any criminal case against him,” said Mr. Ravindra Yadav.
Mr. Ravindra Yadav, who works with the Delhi Metro, said the police had initially included his name among the alleged attackers but on realising that their “story” would not hold up as he was on duty then, told him he would not be charged.
Pushpendra Yadav’s wife alleged that the police were extorting money from him for his seized truck and that he had already paid them ₹1.5 lakh.
While a magisterial probe has been ordered, the police have declined the family’s request to book the SHO for murder or have a separate FIR against him. “Their grievances and evidences will be included in the probe and if anyone is guilty, we will act against them,” said the SSP.
SP Rajya Sabha MP Chandrapal Singh Yadav, who first raised the matter, demanded a CBI inquiry or a probe under a judge into what he termed a “fake encounter”.
Mr. Chandrapal Singh Yadav said he had “solid information” that the police first committed the murder and then concocted the story of the shooting and stolen vehicle to cover it up. “This is a case of corruption. The police extorts money for illegal mining,” he said.
Sidharth Nath Singh, U.P. government spokesperson and a Cabinet Minister, defended the “encounter” and said both sides fired at each other. He targeted Mr. Akhilesh Yadav for his scheduled visit to the house of the deceased saying it shows his affinity for “the mining mafia and casteism”. The Minister said, “To show sympathy for a mining mafia member who shoots at an inspector and then is killed in return fire, reflects Akhileshji’s thinking.”
The Jhansi Police have released a list of crimes attributed to Pushpendra Yadav, mostly related to personal disputes. All five pertained to 2014 and 2015, and included charges such as abetment, enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman, criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt.