Justice Party leader found hanging, blame game begins (Lead)

April 13th, 2009 - 4:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party Lucknow, April 13 (IANS) Dalit leader and Indian Justice Party’s (IJP) Lok Sabha candidate Bahadur Sonkar was found hanging from a tree in Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur town Monday, a death his relatives blamed on the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which in turn named the Samajwadi Party.
Sonkar, who was contesting against BSP’s Dhananjay Singh, a mafia don turned politician, was found hanging near Raja Ka Talab, barely 500 metres from his home in Ahiyapur-Rasheedabad locality, 200 km from here.

There was high drama with his relatives and supporters trying to prevent police from taking away the body — recovered after the family found him missing from his bed in the outer verandah of his residence.

His slippers and mobile were lying near the cot while the mattress and sheet were also littered around the bed, indicating a scuffle before he was forcibly carried away.

Sonkar’s family members said Dhananjay Singh had been issuing death threats to Sonkar through a police officer.

A relative alleged that police circle officer Ditendra Chaudhary had been pressurising him to withdraw his candidature in favour of Dhananjay Singh.

“When Bahadur told the officer that it was not possible for him to pull out of the election fray, the cop warned him to be ready to face serious consequences,” the relative said on condition of anonymity.

The candidate had informed election observers and had spoken to the media about the matter.

“Even last night (Sunday), he was referring to another phone call from the officer,” said a brother of the victim.

IJP chief Udit Raj, who has arrived in Jaunpur, has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe and sought the immediate arrest of the circle officer as well as a police inspector.

Mines Minister Babu Singh Kushwaha, known for his close proximity to Chief Minister Mayawati, told a hurriedly convened press conference here: “We have reason to believe that Bahadur Sonkar was killed at the behest of the Samajwadi Party.”

Refuting allegations from Sonkar’s family and Udit Raj, he said: “It was only Samajwadi Party that stood to gain from Sonkar’s killing… Our candidate was already winning the election hands down. So what would he stand to gain from the murder?”

Addressing a question about Sonkar’s statement to TV channels about his threats, Kushwaha claimed: “I am not aware of that.”

In Lucknow, a spokesperson of the Mayawati government said the guilty would not go unpunished.

“No one, no matter how high and mighty, would be spared if he were involved in the killing,” the official told IANS.

Jaunpur District Magistrate Aparna Upadhyaya said: “Until I get the post mortem report, I will not make any comment.”

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