Updated: January 5, 2022 1:59:36 am
A Congress leader was shot in the leg by three unidentified assailants in Sultanpur district on Sunday evening. Reeta Yadav, 35, is in hospital and out of danger.
Yadav, who crossed over to the Congress from the Samajwadi Party last month, was recently in the news for showing black flags to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his November 16 rally in Sultanpur. She had been led out of the ground and arrested.
Police said Yadav had said that the three assailants on a motorcycle had forced her driver to stop at gunpoint on the Lucknow-Varanasi highway and opened fire. An FIR has been lodged against unidentified persons at Lamhua Police Station in Sultanpur. No arrests have been made yet.
Additional Superindent of Police, Sultanpur, Vipul Kumar Srivastava said they had recorded the statements of Yadav and the driver Mustakeem, as well as visited the spot. Mustakeem, 50, a local resident who owned the SUV that Yadav had hired, escaped without any injuries. A panel of doctors is examining Yadav, the ASP said, adding that the bullet had exited the body.
Police said they suspect a sophisticated weapon was used in the attack. They have found no eyewitnesses so far.
Srivastava said there were some doubts regarding the incident as Yadav and Mustakeem were constantly changing their statements on the sequence of events. The officer said that with the Lucknow-Varanasi highway being four-lane, it was difficult for a motorcycle to corner an SUV to stop it. The Lamhua Police Station is located around 300 m from the spot.
There is also blackening around the entry point of the wound, indicating Yadav was shot from a close range, officials said. Admitted to the surgical ward of the district hospital, Yadav is being provided security by three police personnel.
“We are looking into all the aspects. We are also taking the opinion of medico-legal experts,” Srivastava said.
Yadav told police that on Sunday afternoon, she went to Sultanpur for some work in a vehicle. On her way back, as she reached an overbridge on the Lucknow-Varanasi Expressway, three men on a black motorcycle reportedly forcibly stopped her vehicle, fired on her and escaped.
“Inquiry is on and the picture would be clear soon,” said Senior Superintendent of Police, Sultanpur, Vipin Kumar Mishra.
Chief Medical Superintendent of Police, District Hospital (Sultanpur), Dr
Suresh Chandra Kaushal said a medical board consisting of two doctors had been formed to examine Yadav. “Its report will be forward to police,” he said.
Congress Sultanpur district president Abhishek Singh Rana said Yadav, a resident of Lalu ka Purva village in the district, joined the party after meeting party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Lucknow and Jagdishpur in Amethi. Sultanpur borders the traditional Gandhi constituency of Amethi.
Yadav had shown black flags to the PM at a rally addressed by him after inaugurating the Purvanchal Express. A case had been lodged against her at the Gosaiganj police station in Sultanpur. Soon after, she had left the SP.
Yadav told The Indian Express she was unhappy with the PM for re-inaugurating the expressway as the same had been inaugurated by the SP government earlier. “To show my unhappiness, I held up black flags. Police arrested me. I remained in jail for around a week and came out on bail.”
She said she was disappointed that SP national president Akhilesh Yadav did not acknowledge her efforts, despite her giving five years to the party. “A few days later, I was asked by local Congress leaders to come to Lucknow as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wanted to meet me. I met her. She appreciated my work and promised to stand by me. On returning to Sultanpur, I joined the Congress,” Yadav said.
Talking about the shooting incident, she said the only reason could be her political work as she had no enmity with anyone. “The people in the area, the local leaders, are jealous of my popularity. I am leading the public, I do rounds of the area. Before firing at me, the shooter said, ‘Badi neta banti ho. Bahut prachar kar rahi ho (You think you are a big leader? You are going around campaigning).”
Yadav said that before the incident, she had gone to the Sultanpur market to fetch the posters and banners of the Congress she had ordered. “I was returning home when three youths on a motorcycle came from behind on the highway. They forced the driver to stop. I was sitting in the middle row of the car. Two of them got off the motorcycle, opened the door of the SUV and started shooting. A bullet hit me in the leg. After that, they escaped,” she said, adding that she knew Mustakeem well.
A postgraduate and mother of two, Yadav joined the SP around five years ago. Husband Santosh Yadav, a businessman, said: “Because of her hard work, the party made her district vice president of the Mahila Morcha.” She contested a zila panchayat election from Sultanpur but lost.
BJP Sultanpur district president R A Verma said they had heard of Yadav for the first time when she waved the black flags and on Monday, after the shooting. “The locals told me she wanted to contest the Assembly elections and was eager for limelight,” Verma said.
The former president of the SP’s Sultanpur Unit, Raghuveer Yadav, said Yadav would regularly attend party functions and meetings.
Yadav has other cases lodged against her in Sultanpur, dating back to 2018 and 2020. In both cases, a chargesheet has been filed, said a senior police officer.
In 2018, Yadav, husband Santosh and two others were arrested under IPC Section 387 (putting a person in fear of death or of grievous hurt, in order to commit extortion). They were later released on bail.
The second case was lodged against Yadav in 2020, after she and some unidentified people took out a protest without following due Covid protocols.
SSP Mishra said Yadav had never made any request for security cover.
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