ON 2 MARCH, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Zia-ul- Haq and two others were brutally murdered in the Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh. Twenty days and a nationwide media campaign later, there are no names that can be linked to this shocking crime.
This is despite a CBI inquiry constituted at the request of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to investigate the high-profile killings.
Nanhe Yadav, pradhan of Balipur village, his brother Suresh Yadav and DSP Kunda, Zia-ul-Haq were murdered in the village on the evening of 2 March. The seven police personnel accompanying the DSP fled the spot where irate villagers attacked the police party. The police lodged a total of four FIRs in connection with the incident. On 5 March, the CBI took over the investigation at the insistence of the state government.
The decision to bring in the CBI was sparked after the late DSP’s wife Parveen Azad had alleged in an FIR that former Cabinet minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya had conspired the murder of her husband. No stranger to controversy, Raja Bhaiya, an independent MLA from Kunda, was minister for food and prisons in the Akhilesh-led government.
The only breakthrough for the CBI has been the recovery of the slain police officer’s service revolver from a pond in Balipur village. Parveen had alleged that her husband was shot with his service revolver. The search for Haq’s cellphone is still on.
In its FIR, the police had named four close associates of Raja Bhaiya as suspects. Two of them, Guddu Singh and Rajiv Singh, were arrested and held on remand by the CBI for six days, but nothing has emerged so far. The agency is yet to summon Raja Bhaiya and the other two accused, Rohit Singh, driver of the former minister and his Public Relations Officer Hari Om Srivastava.
The DSP was killed just days before the Samajwadi Party completed one year in office. The incident gathered storm after the media went into overdrive and the issue threatned the Akhilesh Yadav government with serious political consequence. Under his father Mulayam Singh Yadav’s stewardship, the CM demonstrated political acumen and promptly referred the matter to the CBI. He also managed to prevail upon Raja Bhaiya to resign from the Cabinet.
Interestingly, Raja Bhaiyya had himself demanded the CBI probe alleging that political rivals had framed him. “I demand a CBI inquiry into the killings,” he said. “I have resigned from the Cabinet as I cannot see the government maligned because of me.”
In what can only be termed as a vulgar display of arrogance, Raja Bhaiya had also said that he did not need to get the DSP murdered because of differences. “As Cabinet minister, I could have got him transferred,” he said.
This was no empty boast. In the 12 months since the Samajwadi Party came to power, Pratapgarh has witnessed six different Superintendents of Police, all transferred within days of being posted.
Currently staying in his Benti palace near Kunda, holding daily “janata durbars”, the former minister is unfazed, almost confident that the CBI probe will turn out in his favour. And not without reason.
“The CBI has to first establish the motive behind the officer’s murder and also whether the incident was spontaneous or a conspiracy,” says a senior police officer on condition of anonymity. “The recovery of the DSP’s service revolver is of little help to the investigation, as no shot was fired from the weapon.”
Officials in the agency are not too confident either. “So far, we have no material on record against Raja Bhaiya to either summon him for interrogation or arrest him,” say sources in the investigating agency.
The only thing left to investigate is the call detail record (CDR) of all accused and the seven police personnel who had accompanied Haq on 2 March. However, that too is not expected to yield much.
“Even if the CDR confirms that Raja Bhaiya spoke to the accused on the night of 2 March or afterwards, that will prove nothing, as he can claim that being the MLA, talking to the people in his constituency is a routine affair,” says an officer.