Union minister and BJP’s Amethi candidate Smriti Irani at a counting centre for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in Amethi. (Image courtesy: PTI)

Smriti Irani’s Aide Shot Dead In Amethi, Police Probe Possible Political Enmity

In the first incident of post-poll violence in Uttar Pradesh, a close aide of Smriti Irani, the newly elected Member of Parliament from Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, was shot dead by two men, with police not ruling out the possibility of it being a "political murder".

Surendra Singh (50), a former head of Baraulia village, was shot at around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, said Additional Superintendent of Police Daya Ram. Singh was referred to a Lucknow hospital but he succumbed during treatment, Ram said.

Speaking to reporters in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Om Prakash Singh said, "We have come to know about old enmity. We are also finding out if there was any political enmity."

"Uttar Pradesh police teams are conducting very intensive investigation. We have taken seven persons in custody, and they are being intensely interrogated. We have also got important evidence through electronic surveillance. I am hopeful that in the next 12 hours, we will solve the case," the Director General of Police said. He said they are looking into a number of possible angles that could have led to the killing.

Expressing grief over Singh's death, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said, "The death of a party worker is indeed very sad and unfortunate. He was a hard worker. Even if his killers are hiding below the ground, they will be caught. The entire Amethi is sad over the incident."

Uttar Pradesh minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi said there's no place for violence in a democracy and demanded strict action against the killers.

Baraulia, the village Singh once headed, was in the news during the general election campaign after Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused Irani of distributing shoes to the village residents in order to insult Rahul Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s leader's main opponent in the constituency. Irani defeated the Congress president on Amethi seat, for long a Gandhi family bastion.

Also read: Amethi Election Results 2019: BJP’s Smriti Irani Unseats Rahul Gandhi From Family Bastion

"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," BJP convenor for Amethi Lok Sabha seat Rajesh Agrahari 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.

Amethi 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." This appears to be the first incident of political violence reported in the state since the completion of the campaigning for the general election.