Tension prevailed in the Kunda area of Pratapgarh district after the murder of a gram pradhan and his brother and the death of a police officer in the cross-fire between two rival groups late on Saturday evening.
One of the groups is reported to be patronised by a state cabinet minister who himself has a criminal record. Top police and administration officials are camping at the spot, and police and PAC contingents from adjoining districts have been deployed in Walipur village where the incident took place.
The trouble started on Saturday evening when unidentified gunmen riding a motorbike pumped bullets into the Walipur pradhan Nanhe Yadav (40). As news of his murder spread, his brother Suresh (35) along with dozens of the pradhan’s supporters attacked former pradhan Kamta Prasad Pal’s house, and indulged in violence and arson in the area. The rival group also opened fire, in which Suresh was killed.
Circle officer Deputy SP Zia-ul-Haq rushed to the village along with the police force from the Hathgawan police station. He and his gunner Imran got caught in the violence while the rest of the police force allegedly fled. The mob beat up the officer and his gunner and shot at them. The police officer died on the spot while the injured gunner managed to escape. The mob decamped with the officer’s service revolver.
Tension in the area peaked on Sunday as the late pradhan’s relatives staged a demonstration with the bodies of the pradhan and his brother, demanding that the guilty be arrested. They refused to perform the last rites until the murderers were caught. The demonstration continued till late Sunday evening.
Sources here said the murdered pradhan had a feud with one Guddu Singh, known to be an associate of cabinet minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias ‘Raja Bhaiyya’, MLA from Kunda with a long criminal history. A few days ago, Nanhe had given in writing to the local police that he feared for his life but nothing was done to provide him any security.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has ordered top officials to rush to the spot. Speaking to reporters, he described the incident as sad and unfortunate, and promised that the murderers would be punished at the earliest. He also announced an ex gratia relief of Rs 20 lakh to the slain police officer’s family.