Two persons, including a senior police officer, were killed and seven injured in a clash that erupted over the murder of a village headman in the Hathgawan area of Pratapharh district, 80 km North-west of here late on Saturday.
According to residents, Nanhe Yadav (38), the pradhan of Ballipur village was standing near a stall close to his house when he was shot by six to eight unidentified assailants on motorbikes. He was rushed to hospital, where he was declared dead.
When his body was brought back to the village, an irate mob indulged in arson, first attacking the house of the alleged assailants before attempting to set other houses in the locality on fire, a senior police officer said.
According to sources, the pradhan had a long-standing land dispute with one of the alleged assailants, reportedly a close aide of U.P. cabinet minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiya.
At around 9.00 p.m., Circle Officers from Kunda and Hathigwan, who rushed to the spot to investigate the case, tried to control the mob. However, the villagers attacked them also, and in the clash some unidentified persons fired at the police, a senior police spokesperson said.
According to unconfirmed reports, the overpowered police personnel fled the scene, but Circle Officer of Kunda, Deputy Superintendent of police Zia-ul-Haque received gunshot wounds to his chest and head.
His body was recovered later with his service revolver missing when police reinforcements reached the spot.
His gunner and a station officer received gun shot wounds as well. The local police station was also reportedly attacked.
The body of Nanhe’s brother Suresh was also later recovered from the outskirts of the village. It is not known who fired the bullet that killed him.
According to his close sources, Nanhe had registered a complaint two days ago about a death threat and was considering moving the court after alleged police inaction.
Police reinforcements from adjoining areas of Manikpur, Nawabganj and Kunda reached the spot and brought the mob under control. Additional police force and Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel were also rushed to the area from neighbouring districts.
While there have been reports that Mr. Haque died in cross-firing between police and villagers, there has been no official confirmation of the actual sequence of events. Allahabad Range Inspector General Alok Sharma did not respond to phone calls, while the Station Officer of Hathgawan was unavailable for comment.
No arrests were made till Sunday evening.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday expressed his grief over the death of the police officer and announced a compensation of Rs. 20 lakh.
Mr. Haque was a resident of Deoria district in the State’s impoverished Purvanchal region.