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Culprits won’t be spared, Mulayam assures Bhargava family

Sunday 26 March 2006

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Lucknow, March 26 : Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav Sunday said that those behind the murder of Meher Bhargava, who was shot at a month ago for protesting her daughter-in-law’s harassment, will not be spared even as a leader of his Samajwadi Party was detained for interrogation. Meher Bhargava, the 50-year old wife of Congress leader Luv Bhargava, was shot at here on Feb 20 for objecting to four men making lewd comments at her daughter-in-law. After battling for life for more than a month, she died of internal bleeding in a Delhi hospital Saturday.

Police had earlier arrested Jaiprakash and Pramod, two of the four accused. However, Amit and Sachin Pahari - a notorious criminal who allegedly shot her, were still absconding. The shooting had taken place outside an apartment rented by K.D. Singh, a block president of the ruling party.

After being accused of harbouring the criminals, the chief minister met the Bhargava family when the victim’s body was brought here in the afternoon. "I express my regret at the incident. We have already picked up two criminals. Whoever is behind this will not be spared," Yadav told the family.

Meanwhile, K. D. Singh and his brother were detained for questioning at Jaunpura, about 200 km from here, Lucknow Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Pandey said. Earlier, the state’s opposition leaders criticised the Mulayam Singh Yadav government for poor law and order condition in the state in the wake of Meher Bhargava’s death.

"The broad daylight shooting on Feb 20 outside a residential apartment - barely 100 metres from the office of the Lucknow district police chief and the failure of the administration to arrest the culprits speak volumes about the state of law and order in Uttar Pradesh," state Congress chief Salman Khurshid told IANS. "It is an open secret that the assailant was closely connected to the ruling party and that was the simple reason why Mulayam’s cops were turning a blind eye to the case," Khurshid said. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) general secretary Satish Misra said: "unabashed patronage extended by the Mulayam regime to criminals has left them unbridled because they know they can get away with murder - literally.

"The local cops were aware of the whereabouts of the shooter who was in the hiding right in the state capital, yet they did not arrest him." The murder sent shockwaves among common citizens, especially women. "It is high time the administration realises that they are responsible to common citizens. More and more women are being sexually harassed in Lucknow simply because the culprits usually enjoy patronage of people in power," said a woman professor of the Lucknow University on condition of anonymity.

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