Less than a kilometre from the local BJP office in Ghaziabad’s Khoda Colony, a local BJP worker was shot dead while the party’s Khoda mandal head sustained severe injuries when two bike-borne assailants fired six bullets at them on Saturday afternoon, police said. BJP’s Khoda mandal head Balvir Chauhan and local party worker Gajendra Bhati left the local party office in Khoda Colony around 1 am, and were intercepted by two bike-borne men. “Bhati and Chauhan were on a motorcycle when they were waylaid. Bhati was the one riding the vehicle. The assailants fired at them and fled towards Delhi,” a senior officer said.
According to police, the incident took place at Indira Nagri in Mangal Bazar. “Four bullets hit Bhati, including one on the eye and another on the chest. Chauhan sustained a bullet injury. Both were taken to a private hospital in Noida, where Bhati died. Chauhan’s condition is stable,” said Akash Tomar, SP (City) Ghaziabad.
Till Saturday evening, police maintained that no complaint had been received to lodge an FIR, but the case was being investigated by four police teams. “We are looking at CCTV footage, recording statements of eyewitnesses and going through phone call records. Old enmity angles are being explored,” Tomar said.
The incident took place amid heavy security presence in the district on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha, and two days after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Ghaziabad, where he announced a grant of Rs 12 crore for development of Khoda Colony — one of the largest urban slums adjoining Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida.
BJP leaders from the district said there is a possibility of “political rivalry” behind the murder. A local leader from Khoda Colony, Bhati had joined the BJP four years ago. “The Khoda Vikas Parishad elections are scheduled for November and he was a candidate for the post of chairman. This incident seems to be politically motivated. Bhati was the prime target,” claimed Ajay Sharma, BJP’s Ghaziabad president.
Police said, “Bhati had a considerable following in the area and he was associated with BSP and SP before joining the BJP. He has faced police cases in the past.” However, Sharma said, “We heard about the cases only today.” Tomar said that “two platoons of the provincial armed constabulary, quick response teams and force from trans-Hindon” have been deployed in the area.