BSP in spot after legislator’s arrest for lynching engineer (Roundup)December 24th, 2008 - 11:23 pm ICT by IANS
Lucknow, Dec 24 (IANS) A Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislator was arrested Wednesday evening for lynching an engineer in Uttar Pradesh allegedly after he refused to pay extortion for Chief Minister Mayawati’s birthday celebrations, the police said Wednesday. The state administration, however, said the incident had no connection with Mayawati.Shekhar Tiwari, allegedly involved in the brutal murder of Public Works Department (PWD) engineer M.K. Gupta in Auraiya district, 250 km from here, in the wee hours of Wednesday, was arrested from Rania town in Kanpur (rural) district, Director General of Police Vikram Singh told reporters.
“while the MLA has been arrested for his suspicious role in the murder, we are on the lookout for two more suspects named in the FIR (first information report) lodged by the victim’s wife Shashi Gupta at the Dibiyapur police station,” he said.
“We are confident of soon apprehending the other two, identified as Tyagi and Bhatia. While Tyagi is a junior engineer working under Gupta, Bhatia’s identity was being investigated,” Singh said.
The state police chief sought to term the incident as a “fallout of kickbacks in contracts in the PWD”.
Earlier, Additional Superintendent of Police Swareshwar Mishra told IANS: “Supporters of Shekhar Tiwari picked up Gupta from his residence in Gail Vihar locality of Auraiya Tuesday night.”
“After holding Gupta captive and subjecting him to physical torture for several hours, the legislator and the supporters left the critically injured engineer at the Dibiyapur police station at around 3 a.m. today (Wednesday) and fled. Gupta died while he was being taken to hospital,” Mishra said.
In the afternoon, the top brass of the state administration, including Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh, Additional Cabinet Secretary V.S. Pandey, Principal Home Secretary Kunwar Fateh Bahadur and DGP Vikram Singh told a hastily convened press conference that Mayawati’s name was being dragged unnecessarily in the matter.
Shashank Shekhar Singh said: “All those who had any role behind the engineer’s murder would be dealt with most severely and we would also slap the Gangster’s Act on the accused persons.”
“The chief minister has nothing whatsoever to do with the whole thing,” he added.
An official press release said the chief minister had announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.500,000 to the slain engineer’s widow, who had also been promised a job on compassionate grounds in the government.
Tiwari and his musclemen had allegedly barged into Gupta’s house around 2 a.m., locked up his wife in the bathroom and thrashed the engineer to death after stripping him.
Around 5 a.m., Tiwari carried a severely injured Gupta to the nearest police station and told the police to register a case against the engineer for “indulging in hooliganism”.
The police, however, took him to hospital around 7 a.m. where he was declared brought dead.
“According to our information, Tiwari told the police that he (Gupta) is a goon and asked them to send him to jail after a medical examination,” said Additional Director General of Police (Crime, Law and Order) Brijlal.
According to the victim’s cousin Sharad Gupta, the engineer was under pressure to shell out a hefty amount for Mayawati’s birthday celebrations.
“On earlier occasions too, Tiwari visited his house a number of times, demanding money. But my brother expressed inability to give the money and his refusal led to this incident,” Sharad Gupta told reporters.
Sharad Gupta told IANS: “My cousin had apprised PWD Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui about Shekhar Tiwari’s oft-repeated demand for money, but nothing concrete was done to restrain him.”
Every year on Jan 15, the BSP supremo holds a big birthday bash and party leaders at various levels are reportedly directed to make their assigned contributions, which Mayawati has openly admitted in the past.
The state’s main opposition Samajwadi Party called for a statewide shutdown Thursday to protest the lawlessness. Party general secretary Amar Singh, talking to reporters in New Delhi, also asked the central government to seek the governor’s report on the law and order in the state.
Samajwadi Party state president Shivpal Yadav said in Lucknow that state legislators and ministers were asked to donate specific amounts for the chief minister’s birthday.
“For example, Naseemuddin Siddiqui has to pay Rs.15 crore (Rs.150 milion), Nakul Dubey has to give Rs.5 crore, Satish Mishra Rs.20 crore and Ram Achal Rajbhar has to give Rs.5 crore.”
The Uttar Pradesh Engineers’ Association declared an indefinite strike to protest the killing.