A day after the husband of the village pradhan of Bandoiya, in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district, died of severe burn injuries, and the family alleged that a few villagers abducted and set him on fire late Thursday night, an old dispute over panchayat politics, and alleged swindling of government funds meant for development, is emerging as a possible trigger for the incident.
Arjun Prasad Kori, 52, who came from the Dalit community, died on way to hospital in Lucknow in the early hours of Friday. His wife, Chhotka Devi, 50, is the village pradhan.
On Saturday, the family said the accused persons had helped them win the pradhan election, and alleged that they subsequently wanted to hijack all decisions taken by Chhotka Devi as pradhan. They alleged that since she did not accept this, the accused, as part of a revenge, kidnapped Kori and set him on fire.
Ram Murti, 71, father of main accused Krishna Kumar Tiwari, denied this and instead alleged Kori set himself on fire to put pressure on them by inflicting minor injuries on self, but it went wrong.
He told The Sunday Express: “Around 11 pm on Thursday neighbours heard noise and informed us. We found Arjun Prasad crying in pain with burn injuries. We informed the police. We believe he set himself on fire to blame us. He must have thought that he will suffer minor injuries, but it did not go as per plan.”
An FIR registered at Munshiganj police station on the complaint of Chhotka Devi names K K Tiwari, Rajesh Mishra, Ravi Shankar Tiwari, Santosh Tiwari, Ram Babu, Ajay and a minor as accused. Of them, Krishna Kumar, Rajesh and Santosh have been arrested. The others are absconding.
In the FIR, the family has alleged that before his death, Kori gave names of people who were allegedly involved in setting him on fire. An audio of this is circulating on social media. Asked about the audio clip, ADG (Lucknow zone) Satya Narain Sabat said the audio will be verified, but at this point it cannot be called an official dying declaration.
The victim’s son, Govind Prasad, 19, said his mother won the first election for village pradhan in 2015, “they (accused, who the teen said had helped her win the reserved post) started to force her to consult them before taking any decision. They even wanted the seal of village pradhan to be handed over to them. My parents refused, and since then they have taken us as their enemy….”
But Tiwari’s father Ram Murti said, “On October 6, we complained against the pradhan of corruption. She was sanctioned money to build 308 toilets, but less than a hundred were built. Yet, she declared the village open defecation-free… They received around Rs 10 lakh to renovate the village primary school but did nothing.”
Station Officer of Munshiganj Mithilesh Singh said things would be clear as the probe proceeds.
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