Dhirendra Pratap Singh, a local BJP leader who was arrested for allegedly shooting a man during the allotment of ration shops here, has told police that he fired in self-defence and claimed the other side started the quarrel, officials said on Monday. He also assured police that he would help in the recovery of the weapon used in the crime, they said.
Singh allegedly shot dead Jai Prakash Pal Gama (46) on Thursday following a quarrel over the allotment of ration shops at Durjanpur village in Ballia's Reoti area. Senior administration and police officials were present at the meeting when the incident took place. After evading arrest for days, Singh was arrested by the UP Special Task Force on Sunday from Lucknow. A cash reward of Rs 50,000 had been announced for his arrest.
"DIG Azamgarh range Subhash Chandra Dubey interrogated Dhirendra Pratap Singh for nearly an hour, and he gave the details of the incident. He assured the police that he would help in the recovery of the weapon (used in the crime), and said that he had fired in self-defence," said SHO of Kotwali police station Vipin Singh. He told police that around 2,000 people had gathered in the village on Thursday and there was a fracas over the allotment of ration shops, the SHO said.
The accused claimed that the other side started the quarrel and opened fire, injuring his nephew and five-six women of his family. His nephew later succumbed to his injuries, he added. Singh also blamed the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and the circle officer for the incident, the police said.
He alleged that the SDM colluded with the other side. He claimed that initially the SDM had announced that the allotment of shops will be done on the basis of majority. But later he said only those having identity cards can take part in the voting, according to the police.
The Uttar Pradesh government has already suspended the SDM, the circle officer and other policemen present at the spot. Besides Singh, four others — Santosh Yadav, Amarjeet Yadav, Ajay Singh and Dharmendra Singh — were arrested in connection with the case from Ballia on Sunday.
So far, police have arrested 10 people in the case, in which an FIR has been lodged against around 30 people, most of whom are yet to be identified. The Uttar Pradesh Police had on Saturday said it would invoke the stringent National Security Act (NSA) and the Gangsters Act against the accused.
Under the NSA, one can be detained without a charge for up to 12 months if authorities are satisfied that the person is a threat to national security or law and order. Under the UP Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, a district magistrate can order attachment of property, whether movable or immovable, if there is a reason to believe that it has been acquired as a commission for an offence triable under this law.