Amid a spate of crime in Uttar Pradesh, a shocking incident was recorded as a local BJP leader allegedly shot dead a man in presence of sub divisional magistrate (SDM), circle officer and other officials in a Ballia village.
The incident took place in Ballia's Reoti area as a fracas broke out Thursday at a meeting attended by administration and police officials over allotment of ration shops.
Jai Prakash (46) was shot dead allegedly by Dhirendra Pratap Singh after the SDM decided not to go ahead with the meeting due to a dispute between members of self-help groups, Superintendent of Police Devendra Nath said.
A video clip showed a group of people running about in a field in panic as shots are heard.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered the suspension of the sub divisional magistrate (SDM), circle officer and all other policemen present at the spot in Durjanpur village in Ballia's Reoti area, police said.
Bairia MLA Surendra Singh confirmed that Singh heads the BJP's ex-servicemen's unit in Ballia district.
"This is a casualty that can happen anywhere. In this incident, there was stone-pelting from both sides. The law will take its own course in the matter," the BJP legislator said.
Reports said Dhirendra Pratap Singh is an aide of the local MLA as picture of the two went viral on social media.
Police registered an FIR naming four and mentioning 15-20 unnamed people on the basis of a complaint filed by Chandrama, the victim's brother.
The accused is absconding and efforts to nab his are underway.
The meeting was held in a tent, where a large number of people gathered. The administration and police officials were also present there, local residents said.
"Taking a serious note of the incident, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed that the SDM, CO and all police personnel present at the spot be suspended immediately and strictest action taken against the accused," Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said in Lucknow.
He said the role of the officers will be investigated and if they are found responsible criminal action will follow.
A sizeable police force has been deployed in the village to maintain law and order, the Ballia SP said.
Meanwhile, opposition parties, including the Samajwadi party and the Congress attacked the ruling BJP as they called the incident an example of "breakdown" of law and order in the state.
"This is an example of breakdown of law and order in the state. In the presence of senior administration and police officers, a BJP leader shot dead a man in Ballia.
Is this the model our CM Yogi Adityanath is giving to the state?" SP spokesman Sharvendra Bikram Singh said.
"In Ballia, an incident has come to the fore in which in front of SDM and circle officer, a BJP leader after killing Jai Prakash Pal managed to flee," the Samajwadi Party said on Twitter.
The Congress also attacked the ruling BJP, saying that it was "shameful" and "unfortunate" that someone kills in front of senior officials.
"The incident of Ballia is shameful and unfortunate. Killing in front of officers and the accused conveniently fleeing is serious matter. CM talks of taking action, but when will he sent his own partymen behind the bars and take action against senior officers?" Congress media coordinator Lalan Kumar said.
The Aam Admi Party (AAP) demanded lodging of an FIR against the officers present at the spot during the incident.
(With PTI inputs)