Says Congress is with bereaved family, assures wife CBI probe will be impartial

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday promised justice to Parveen Azad, wife of the slain Deputy Superintendent of Police, Zia-ul-Haq.

Mr. Gandhi undertook an unannounced visit to the police officer’s village in Deoria district. He was with the family for about an hour, and also went to his grave in the qabristan.

He later told reporters that “someone’s dreams have been shattered,” and “the family will get justice.” He said the Congress was with them “in this hour of tragedy.”

Reliable sources told The Hindu that in her meeting with Mr. Gandhi, Ms. Azad urged the Amethi MP to ensure that speedy justice was delivered in the case. She reiterated that the inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should be conducted by officers based in Delhi as there was a possibility of the probe being influenced by State-level officers of the agency, these sources said. “Mr. Gandhi told Ms. Azad that an impartial probe would be conducted by the CBI,” said a leader, who accompanied him to the village.

Ms. Azad had made a similar demand to Union Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh when he met her on Friday.

Visit kept under wraps

The visit to Jafuhar was kept a secret and the local Congressmen were not informed, although adequate security arrangements were made by the Gorakhpur and Deoria district administrations.

Mr. Gandhi was accompanied by Congress general secretary Rasheed Masood, U.P. Congress president Nirmal Khatri and MLA from Rudrapur in Deoria district, Akhilesh Pratap Singh.

He landed at Gorakhpur airport at 11.40 a.m. and travelled by road to the officer’s village reaching there at 1 p.m. He talked to the family members of the officers for about 55 to 60 minutes. Mr. Masood, Mr. Khatri and Mr. Singh were present. Later, he went to the grave of the slain DSP before returning to Gorakhpur. He returned to Delhi at 5 p.m.

Even as the Congress expressed its solidarity with the DSP’s family — former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, a delegation of the U.P. Congress Committee and Mr. R.P.N. Singh accompanied by the UPCC president had visited the village earlier — the Bharatiya Janata Party appears to be rallying around Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya.

The former Minister, who quit his post on March 4 after being named accused in the DSP’s killing in Balipur village in Pratapgarh district on March 2, is likely to be quizzed by the CBI. The investigating agency has reportedly sought the phone call details of the Kunda MLA.

Support for Mr. Raja Bhaiya has also come from Yogi Adityanath, the BJP MP from Gorakhpur. Giving a twist to the controversy, the MP alleged that the Kunda MLA has been made a scapegoat at the behest of Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan.

Mr. Khan had accompanied Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to Jafuhar on March 4 following a dharna staged by Ms. Azad and her refusal to allow her husband’s burial till the Chief Minister visited the village. Mr. Khan was also with the Chief Minister when he visited Balipur village on March 5 to meet the family members of the slain gram pradhan, Nanhe Yadav, and his brother Suresh Yadav.

However, anti-Azam Khan slogans were raised, allegedly by Mr. Raja Bhaiya’s supporters in Balipur village. Mr. Khan’s supporters burnt the Independent MLA’s effigy in Aligarh the next day.

Meanwhile, the Varanasi district administration has denied permission for the investiture ceremony of the Uday Pratap College students union.

The event was to be held on Saturday with Mr. Raja Bhaiya as the guest. He was the Food and Civil Supplies Minister when the invitation was sent to him. The invitation was not withdrawn by the office-bearers of the union even after the former Minister quit on Monday.