Within 24 hours of the killing of Hanuman Saran Shukla right on the dais during a BSP dharna dharna at Gonda in Uttar Pradesh, the police arrested two persons,

Prem Narain Pandey and Monu Mishra alias Bal Krishna Mishra.

The fatal shot from a country-made pistol was fired by Mishra, the police said on Thursday. Two others named in the first information report — Ashtbhuja Mishra, pradhan of Sarraiya village in Tarabganj, and Sheesh Dutt Tiwari, pradhan of Kharagpur — were yet to be arrested.

The ruling Bahujan Samaj Party was also quick to disown Shukla. Principal Secretary (Home) Kunwar Fateh Bahadur told journalists here. “Shukla was a history-sheeter with 21 criminal cases pending against him and his murder was due to old enmity with the accused. He was not a member of the BSP, and neither was he a zilla panchayat member,” Mr. Bahadur told journalists here. He said Shukla's father Jag Narain Shukla too was a history-sheeter.

Mr. Bahadur said the murder conspiracy was hatched by Prem Narain Pandey and Monu Mishra, who had a running feud with the deceased.

Wednesday's function in Gonda was held at the District Collectorate and was attended by BSP MLAs Ramesh Gautam (Tarabganj), Mohammad Jamil Khan (Gonda), Kunwari Brij Singh (Karnailganj) and the former Gonda MP, Kirti Vardhan Singh. The function was on when Shukla was shot from behind. He was declared brought dead at the Gonda district hospital.

On how could a history-sheeter be present on the BSP dais and killed subsequently despite the heavy police presence, Mr. Bahadur said it was common knowledge that many such elements try to come close to the ruling party to enhance their prestige.

Influential figure

Reports from Gonda said the deceased was an influential member of the ruling party in the district and was planning to contest the 2012 Assembly elections from Tarabganj. Shukla is also said have played a leading role in the success of Chief Minister Mayawati's “social engineering” formula in Gonda district. In fact, Shukla's posters were placed on the dais at Wednesday's function.

Mr. Bahadur said the police were investigating how Shukla's posters were placed on the dais.