BSP legislator lynches engineer in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati link denied (Second Lead)

December 24th, 2008 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj PartyLucknow, Dec 24 (IANS) A Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislator and his supporters lynched an engineer in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district allegedly after he refused to pay extortion for Chief Minister Mayawati’s birthday celebrations, police said Wednesday. The state administration said the incident had no connection with Mayawati.”Supporters of BSP legislator Shekhar Tiwari picked up M.K. Gupta, an engineer with the Public Works Department (PWD), from his residence in Gail Vihar locality of Auraiya Tuesday night,” Additional Superintendent of Police Swareshwar Mishra told IANS over telephone.

“After holding Gupta captive and subjecting him to physical torture for several hours, the legislator and the supporters left the critically injured engineer at Dibiyapur police station at around 3 a.m. today (Wednesday) and fled. Gupta died while he was being taken to hospital,” Mishra said.

Auraiya is some 250 km from Lucknow.

Tiwari was arrested only late in the evening from Kanpur.

Later in the day, 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 Director General of Police 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.”

Seeking to refute reports about the alleged extortion bid, he said: “All I would like to say is that the chief minister has nothing whatsoever to do with the whole thing.”

While Shashank Shekhar Singh said the ruling party legislator’s name was mentioned in the first information report, DGP Vikram Singh parried all queries related to the contents of the FIR.

“I do not have details of the FIR,” he pleaded, but asserted: “We will get the MLA arrested soon and I can assure you none will be spared at any cost.”

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 muscle-men 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.

At 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”.

Police, however, took him to hospital around 7 a.m. where he was declared brought dead.

“According to our information, Tiwari told 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 Uttar Pradesh Engineers’ Association declared an indefinite strike to protest the killing.

“We have received similar complaints from other engineers from various districts and they say that legislators are threatening them and demanding money. We will resume work only after the legislator and his supporters are arrested and the government promises to ensure a fearless environment for us to work in the state,” said association president A.Q. Farooqui.

Top-level efforts were on to persuade the engineers’ association to withdraw the strike, call.

The main opposition Samajwadi Party, in a press conference, said state legislators and ministers had been 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,” Samajwadi Party state president Shivpal Yadav said.

“The contribution has been fixed depending upon the ministry and post enjoyed by the legislators and MPs,” Yadav said.

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