A BJP leader from Dadri, Vijay Pandit, was shot dead late on Saturday by unidentified men who came on motorcycles.
According to police, Pandit was standing outside his house around 9.30 pm when three assailants on two motorcycles came there.
“They got off their bikes and began firing at Pandit. He was shot five times. Before anyone could react, the assailants fled the spot,” a police officer said.
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Pandit was rushed to a hospital in Ghaziabad, where he was declared dead.
After Pandit was taken to the hospital, his supporters landed at the spot, police said. The angry mob set fire to vehicles parked nearby.
According to his supporters, Pandit had initiated a campaign against an extortion racket targeting traders in Dadri area. They claimed that he had been receiving death threats ever since he started his campaign and that police had not taken these threats seriously.
One UP roadways bus, a truck, two Canters and six other vehicles were torched, police said. Other vehicles parked on Dadri road were also damaged by the mob.
Police sources said their attempts to control the situation were “met with aggression” from the BJP workers. Police said the mob started hurling stones at the personnel. Sources also said shots were fired at the policemen and they had to fire in retaliation.
With the situation escalating, all roads leading to Ghaziabad, including GT Road, connecting Dadri to Ghaziabad and Sikandrabad, and the Dadri railway crossing road were closed down. Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel have been deployed at the spot. Additional forces from the nearby districts of Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr have also been brought in.
“The situation in Dadri is very tense. A businessman was murdered in a similar manner recently. Dadri is currently under tight security and we are taking all steps to ensure that the violence doesn’t escalate further,” a senior police officer said.
Pandit’s wife Geeta Pandit is the chairperson of the Dadri Nagar Palika Parishad. The Dadri Assembly seat is Mayawati’s home constituency. While primarily a rural region, swift development of the area changed political equations here. Pandit was vital to the BJP to utilise this change to the party’s advantage, sources said.
BJP leaders said while Dadri is dominated by the Gujjar community, the party has been successful in breaking away from caste politics. Pandit, sources said, was close to BJP MP Mahesh Sharma.
Sources in the BJP said the party will stage protests in the district and neighbouring areas against the SP government for the deteriorating law and order situation in western UP.