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Irani aide shot dead in Amethi

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: May 26, 2019  | 18:13 IST

(Eds: Adding Irani meeting family, CM's directive) Amethi (UP), May 26 (PTI) In the first incident of post-poll violence in Uttar Pradesh, a close aide of newly-elected Amethi MP Smriti Irani was shot dead by two unidentified men, with police not ruling out the possibility of it being a "political murder". Surendra Singh, 50, a former head of Baraulia village, around 25 km from the Amethi district headquarters, was shot at around 11.30 pm on Saturday. Singh was referred to a Lucknow hospital, but succumbed during treatment, Additional Superintendent of Police Daya Ram said. Director General of Police Om Prakash Singh said seven people had been taken into custody and they were being interrogated. "We have come to know about old enmity. We are also finding out if there was any political enmity. In initial investigation, we have got some vital clues," the DGP told reporters in Lucknow. "UP police teams are conducting a very intensive investigation. We have also got important evidence through electronic surveillance," the officer said. "I am hopeful that in the next 12 hours, we will solve the case." Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed the DGP to take effective action and report back to him, a senior official said, adding that the inspector general of Lucknow had been sent for monitoring the situation. Irani, who was in Delhi, flew to Lucknow en route to Amethi, where she met Surendra Singh's family and consoled them. The BJP leader and state minister Mohsin Raza participated in the funeral rites, which was attended by a larger number of people. Both Irani and Raza were seen carrying Surendra's body amidst chanting of slogans by villagers. "As per the information received, Singh was attacked in his sleep. This is a very heinous and disgusting incident," Raza, the minister in charge of Amethi district, said. "I think some pro-Congress anti-social elements did not like our celebration following the BJP's win from Amethi. They were upset," Abhay Singh, the former village head's son, told reporters. Irani had defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, a seat considered a Gandhi family bastion. District Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said the incident cannot be ruled out to be a "political murder". "All aspects are being probed. There can be old enmity as well," the SP said. Women family members of the slain ex-pradhan were inconsolable. "He (Singh) never has any enmity with anyone despite being a village pradhan for many years," a teary-eyed elderly lady told reporters. "And as the (Lok Sabha) elections were over, enemies surfaced. From where they came, who came, no one knows." Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya expressed grief over Singh's death. "The death of a party worker is indeed very sad and unfortunate. He was a hard worker," Maurya said. "Even if his killers are hiding below the ground, they will be caught. The entire Amethi is sad over the incident." Newly-elected Allahabad MP Rita Bahuguna Joshi said there was no place for violence in a democracy and demanded strict action against the killers. Baraulia was in the news during the Lok Sabha election campaign after Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused Irani of distributing shoes to the residents in order to insult Rahul Gandhi. "Considering the fact that the Congress is disappointed, especially after the defeat of its party president in Amethi, a high-level probe should be ordered and the guilty should be punished," Rajesh Agrahari, the BJP convenor for the Amethi constituency, told PTI. "Surendra Singh was a popular and active grassroots-level leader, and a close aide of MP Smriti Irani. He and other party leaders were actively involved in distribution of shoes," he added. PTI CORR NAV SMI HMB

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