Former Uttar Pradesh minister arrested over policeman’s killing (Third Lead)

June 10th, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Lucknow, June 10 (IANS) Former Uttar Pradesh minister Jamuna Nishad was finally arrested here Tuesday while on his way to meet Chief Minister Mayawati, three days after he led a protesting mob that killed a policeman leading to his own ouster from the government. Nishad was taken into custody after the police intercepted his car at the main city square at Hazratganj area. He was charged with a variety of offences including murder, creating public nuisance and illegal possession of arms.

He was proceeding to attend a meeting of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) at Mayawati’s official residence.

In the afternoon, police produced Nishad before the court of the chief judicial magistrate which granted a transit remand to produce him in the Maharajganj session court - as the crime took place in Maharajganj district of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

A legislator from Pipraich in Gorakhpur district who served as minister of state for fisheries, Nishad is accused of leading a mob on the Maharajganj police station Saturday night when one of his supporters shot dead constable Krishnanand Rai.

The slain man had come out to see what the commotion was all about when he was hit by a bullet and collapsed. He died in a hospital.

He was survived by his wife Rambha and two young daughters Dipika and Supriya.

The next day, Mayawati asked Nishad to resign from her government.

“The arrest is the result of police investigations. Twelve people from Maharajganj and adjoining towns have already been arrested,” Director General of Police Vikram Singh told reporters.

Asked about the magisterial inquiry ordered by the chief minister in the incident, Singh said: “We have arrested Nishad on the basis of police inquiry, the magisterial probe is separate.”

Asked about the need for a second probe when the police were investigating the case, Singh read from a statement issued by Mayawati after the minister was asked to resign.

“Jungle law would not be tolerated and a criminal will be punished if found guilty irrespective of his caste, creed, social stature or political party,” the chief minister had said.

He said the former minister’s arrest was the result of this conviction.

The mob led by Nishad had staged a noisy protest at the police station after the police converted a rape charge into one of molestation. The victim, a Dalit girl, is a member of the Nishad community, who are mostly fishermen.

The police changed the charge after a medical examination failed to confirm rape. But a medical board set up by the chief minister submitted a report Monday night confirming the girl was indeed raped.

Singh said that since the residence of the Maharajganj superintendent of police and the police station had a common entrance, the minister might have gone to meet the officer.

At that time, someone from the mob could have fired at the constable. “More investigations are needed to establish if Nishad was present at the spot when the constable was shot at,” Singh said.

Singh also said that since the medical board had confirmed rape, the investigating officer of the case, sub-inspector Munni Ram, had been suspended.

He said the police had sought “strict action” against the doctor who ruled that there was no rape.

“Both incidents, the constable’s death and the alleged rape, would be given equal importance.”

Nishad is an influential leader of fishermen in eastern Uttar Pradesh. He contested the Lok Sabha election in 1999 and 2004 from Gorakhpur on Samajwadi Party ticket and lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party. He switched loyalties to the BSP ahead of the 2007 assembly elections.

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