Uttar Pradesh Labour Minister Swami Prasad Maurya on Saturday said the five persons killed in Unchahar police station area of Rae Bareli on June 26 were “goons, criminals and shooters who had come to kill the son of the pradhan of the village where they were killed”.
A week ago, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of each of five victims allegedly murdered by the family members of the village pradhan. He had issued directions to police to arrest of the accused, after an inquiry, within 10 days.
Maurya also alleged that the five men were sent by Samajwadi Party MLA from Unchahar, Manoj Kumar Pandey, to eliminate the son of village’s woman pradhan, Ram Shri, as her family had left the SP and joined BJP after assembly elections. Maurya’s son Utkrishta had contested the assembly election from Unchahar as a BJP nominee but lost to Pandey.
“Manoj Pandey is building pressure to take one-sided action in the case. The people killed were goons, criminals and mafia of their area. The people in the villages of those killed are celebrating their deaths because they are saying that they are now free. But, why is Manoj Pandey beating his head, when they are neither his relatives nor from his area? They were goons, mafia and criminals from faraway,” he told reporters in his constituency Padrauna in Kushinagar district Saturday.
“Those killed had gone to kill the son of village pradhan but when the villagers gathered there, they fled. Their vehicle hit an electricity pole after which villagers killed them. Those killed had history sheets in Pratapgarh. About 25 days back, another attempt was made on Raja Yadav (pradhan’s son) but he survived. He had filed a complaint with the police but his FIR was not registered. This emboldened the assailants,” Maurya told The Sunday Express.
He said it is wrong to paint the victims or the accused as Brahmins and OBCs but the opposition parties are trying to take political benefit from the incident. “The government has given them compensation because their deaths are sad. There should be no politics on it. A criminal belongs to no caste,” he said.
Manoj Pandey could not be reached on Saturday despite several attempts. However, he had held a press conference in Lucknow on July 4 when he demanded compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the kin of each deceased and government job to one family member of each killed. He had also announced that his organisation, Akhil Bharatiya Brahmin Vichar Manch will observe silent (maun vrat) demonstration on Sunday.
Maurya’s statement comes at a time when the BJP government has been trying to control any possible political damage from the incident, which has has been highlighted as the killing of five Brahmins by the opposition. All five victims were Brahmins and the accused persons belong to backward Yadav caste. Maurya’s proximity to the accused persons has also irked party’s Brahmin leaders, who have been trying to assuage their supporters.
Law Minister Brajesh Pathak on Saturday said Maurya’s comments were “condemnable”.
A number of Brahmin leaders from the party issued statements assuring swift action. On July 3, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said that all the named accused had been arrested in “the brutal killings incident in Rae Bareli” and administration had been given directions to provide arms license and security to the victims’ family.
Rohit Shukla, Narendra Shukla, Ankush Mishra, Anoop Mishra, all residents of Sangramgarh area of Pratapgarh district, and Brajesh Shukla, a resident of Chhitiya village in Unchahar area, were killed in Apta village under Unchahar police station on the night of June 26. While three of them were allegedly beaten to death, two had been burnt alive in their car. Police have arrested nine persons for their alleged involvement in the killings. Those arrested are Rajendra Yadav, Ram Abhilakh, Dasrath, Raja Yadav, Krishna Yadav, Pradeep Yadav, Shiv Kumar, Ram Bahal Yadav and Bhadau. Raja, Krishna and Pradeep are sons of village pradhan, Ram Shri Yadav.