Uttar Pradesh’s first woman Bar Council chairperson Darvesh Singh Yadav was shot dead inside the Agra district court Wednesday by another lawyer Manish Babu Sharma, who then turned the gun on himself.
Sharma fired at least three rounds at Yadav inside the another lawyer’s chamber just minutes after she ended a victory procession at the Agra court for being elected Bar Council chief on June 9.
While Yadav (37) was declared dead at an Agra hospital, Sharma (35) is in critical condition. Police said they were yet to ascertain the motive behind the murder and said that Sharma shot her with his licensed pistol over a dispute connected to the allocation of chambers in the court.
An FIR has been lodged against Sharma on charges of murder at the New Agra police station, said Assistant Superintendent of Police, City (Agra) Prashant Verma.
According to Verma, lawyers Wednesday morning took out a victory procession to celebrate Yadav’s victory, which ended at around 2.30 pm. Yadav then went to the chamber of a local lawyer Arvind Mishra.
“While Darvesh was talking to lawyers, Manish Sharma arrived. A few minutes later, a heated argument took place between Darvesh Singh and Manish Sharma over some issue. Suddenly, Manish took out his licensed pistol and shot her thrice,” said Verma. “Before lawyers present there could understand, Sharma shot himself in the head with the same pistol. An autopsy report is still awaited.”
Her entourage of at least 10 people walked into Mishra’s chamber accompanied by Yadav’s younger sister Kanchan and a police sub Inspector. According to multiple eyewitnesses, just before he shot her, Sharma told Yadav: “Tu jeet gayi (you have won)”.
Advocate Madan Mohan, an eyewitness, said, “Madam (Yadav) was sitting on her chair and he shot her thrice. Two bullets hit her chest and one her head. She slumped forward and fell. I did not see Manish shooting himself. In that confusion, I saw blood trickling from Sharma’s head.”
Agra lawyers said that they were aware that Yadav and Sharma were at odds for at least the last two months and had stopped sitting in the same chamber. “I garlanded Yadav when she came to the campus and saw Sharma. I was surprised that Sharma came as he did not see eye to eye with Yadav. I patted Sharma’s back thinking he sorted out his differences with her,” said Amir Ahmad, former secretary of the UP Bar Council.
ASP Verma also said police were yet to determine the motive. “Manish Sharma was a long-time acquaintance of Darvesh Singh. So far, no lawyers had come forward to tell if there was a dispute between Darvesh Singh and Manish Sharma. The investigation is on,” he said.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed Agra’s district magistrate N G Ravi Kumar to immediately determine the reason behind the murder and asked SSP Agra Jogendra Kumar to ensure an effective probe. The CM also directed Law and Justice Minister Brijesh Pathak to travel to Agra.
Agra Bar Association’s general secretary D P Ojha said, “Manish Sharma was once a junior of Darvesh Singh. We have no idea of the dispute between them.” Former UP Bar Council chairperson and present member, Akhilesh Awasthi said Darvesh Singh was earlier vice-president of the Bar Council. “We demand compensation of Rs 50 lakh for her family. We also request the state government to provide security to all UP Bar Council members and lawyers,” he said.
At the SN Medical College mortuary where Yadav’s body was handed over to her family members, several hundred lawyers gathered to offer condolences. Her sister left with the body to Etah for the last rites.