Somewhere in Amethi....

A former Amethi village head who campaigned for Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha elections has been shot dead.

Irani attended the last rites of the 50-year-old and promised swift action against those involved in the killing.

Irani defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, his party’s traditional stronghold, in the general elections that the NDA swept, winning 353 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha.

BJP leader Surendra Singh, a former head of Barauliya village who actively participated in the party’s campaign in the constituency, was shot by bike-borne assailants outside his house on Saturday night, the police said. He was declared dead at a hospital later. The police initially said they were looking into the possibility of personal enmity as the motive for the crime but the family of the deceased alleged that it was a political killing.

Inspector at Jamo police station in Amethi, Rajeev Singh, said that in an FIR in the case, the victim’s brother said he spotted a Congress supporter near the scene of the crime. Director general of police OP Singh said seven suspects were detained in connection with the murder. “We have found vital clues… We are confident of solving the case in the next 12 hours. Three companies of PAC [Provincial Armed Constabulary] have been deputed,” he said.

Irani, who was a minister in the Narendra Modi-led council of ministers in the first term of the National Democratic Alliance government, reached Amethi on Sunday afternoon and attended the last rites of the slain BJP leader. Irani and Uttar Pradesh minister Mohsin Raza helped carry the body of the deceased on their shoulders during the funeral. “I have vowed before Surendra ji’s family that I will do everything it takes, even if it means going to the Supreme Court, to ensure punishment to those behind the killing,” Irani said.

The brother of the deceased, Rajendra Singh, alleged it was a political killing. He said his brother wielded influence in his village as well as in adjoining areas, which led to his murder.

Irani asked party workers to exercise restraint after attending the funeral.

Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the killing of a BJP worker in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district two days ago.

Director General of Police OP Singh said there was a local-level political rivalry between the deceased, Surendra Singh, 50, and the father of one of the accused. Singh was a close aide of Amethi MP Smriti Irani.

“We have arrested three persons. After the incident was reported, as many as seven people were taken into custody and they were thoroughly quizzed,” Singh told reporters here. “Among the seven people, there were three who were linked with the incident.” Amethi Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said those arrested have been identified as Ramchandra, Dharmanath and Naseem, while two persons were absconding.

Singh was shot when he was sleeping in his house at Baraulia village on May 25. He succumbed to injuries at a Lucknow hospital.

“The incident is a result of old enmity. There was tension between the slain ex-pradhan and Dharamnath since the last panchayat election,” the SP said.

Meanwhile, a BJP worker was killed in Bhatpara in North 24 Parganas district. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the murder saying BJP workers were killed in the state over their political ideology.

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