BAREILLY: Someone must have been shooting the video when Jagendra Singh, scalded and dying in a hospital bed, every inch of his flesh peeling from the fire that ravaged his frail body, asks, barely able to cry, “Why did they have to burn me? If the minister and his goons had a grudge, they could have beaten me instead of pouring kerosene and burning me.” The magistrate, who is there to record his final statement, doesn’t have anything to say.
The video, a most horrific and damning indictment of the lawlessness in Uttar Pradesh and the power wielded by the state’s influential men, was shot on June 8, a week after the Shahjahanpur-based journalist was set on fire allegedly by a group of raiding policemen who had come to investigate why he was writing on social media against the minister for dairy development, Ram Murti Verma.
The gut-wrenching video has sent shockwaves across the country, with indication coming from Lucknow that UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, after a closed-door meeting with the Samajwadi Party top brass, is likely to dismiss the senior minister in his cabinet.
Verma has already been charged with murder, along with nine others, among them four policemen. Governor Ram Naik has also sought action against Verma and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as home minister Rajnath Singh to apprise them of the incident.
The journalist, who had written relentlessly against Verma, is also heard saying in the chilling video that the “police team, led by inspector Sri Prakash Rai, barged into the house and started assaulting me. They could have arrested me.”
Shiv Kumar, secretary of the Shahjahanpur Press Club, said, “We are shaken to the core by the brutality of this act, which occurred in broad daylight even as Singh’s family was present nearby. We will not rest until an impartial probe is conducted and action taken against the guilty. The district administration has shown great apathy in this case.”
Circle officer (city) Gopal Krishna said Shyam Bihari Upadhyaya, director of the state Forensic Science Laboratory, led a team of his staff on Friday to the house of the slain journalist in an attempt to understand the sequence of events that occurred on June 1. The experts gathered evidence from the spot and will soon submit a report to the government.
While the journalist’s two sons, Rahul and Raghvendra, have been consistently saying that their father was set on fire by policemen acting at the behest of the minister, cops have claimed that he set himself on fire in an attempt to commit suicide at the time of the raid.