Large-scale violence and arson erupted at Jeeyanpur in Azamgarh district in eastern Uttar Pradesh following the murder in broad daylight of a former MLA, Sarvesh Singh alias Seepu Singh, and his aide, Bharat Rai, on Friday. Another person, a trader, was killed in police firing after the Jeeyanpur police station was attacked by Mr. Singh’s supporters.

In what is said to be a case of political rivalry, three motorcycle-borne assailants sprayed bullets into Mr. Singh (35) and his aide in the former MLA’s house, and made good their escape. No arrests have been made.Mr. Singh was elected MLA from Sagari on Samajwadi Party ticket in 2007. Last year, he joined the Bahujan Samaj Party and was fielded from Azamgarh city in the Assembly polls but he lost to the SP’s Durga Prasad Yadav.

Amid violence and arson that followed the killing of Mr. Singh around 9.40 a.m., 2,000-3,000 of his armed supporters gheraoed and attacked the police station. About 25 policemen and over a dozen civilians were injured. The trader killed in police firing has been identified as Jitendra Gupta. Six policemen suffered injuries — caused by bullets or bomb attack and stone throwing. They have been hospitalised, Inspector-General (Law and Order) Raj Kumar Vishwakarma said. Among the civilians injured and hospitalised was local journalist Gyanendra Mishra.

About a dozen vehicles, including police vans, were torched by the mob.

Even as the situation continued to be tense, police and officials were trying to retrieve the bodies of Mr. Singh and his aide, still stuck in the former MLA’s residence, for inquest and cremation, the IG said. Additional forces have been rushed to Azamgarh from the neighbouring districts of Jaunpur, Ambedkar Nagar, Gorakhpur and Ghazipur, and four additional companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) deployed there.

Mr. Vishwakarma said Mr. Singh, along with Mr. Rai, had just returned home after from the police station after lodging a complaint, when the attack took place. A local school official had taken Rs. 80,000 from Mr. Rai on a false promise that his daughter would be granted admission.

Property dispute or conspiracy

Omar Rashid reports from Allahabad:

While the police attributed the killing of Mr. Singh to a “property dispute” and “old enmity,” his supporters saw the hand of persons close to the ruling SP. Mr. Seepu Singh’s father Rampyare Singh was a Cabinet minister in the previous Mulayam Singh government.

The district erupted in protest following the killing as hundreds of angry supporters of Mr. Seepu Singh took to the streets and clashed with the police, indulging in stone pelting and brickbatting.

Two police Vajra vans and six motorcycles were torched. The mob also attempted to set the local police station afire, said the police. According to reports, it snatched rifles from the police.

ADG Law and Order Arun Kumar, who rushed to Azamgarh late in the evening, told The Hindu that the situation was brought under control.

‘Goonda raj’

Reacting to the incidents, Leader of Opposition and senior BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya lashed out at the ruling party and demanded that action be taken to end the “Goonda raj” in the State.

He said the SP had recently withdrawn security for Mr. Singh. “This shows the government’s apathetic attitude.”

State BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai said the killing could be a part of a political conspiracy. The Congress also condemned the killing.