Atiq Khan

LUCKNOW: Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh on Tuesday demanded a judicial inquiry into the Batla House encounter in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar locality, but ruled out withdrawal of support to the Congress if a probe was not instituted.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Singh said his party’s support to the Congress-led UPA government was in the country’s interest. The demand for a judicial inquiry and the SP’s support to the Congress were not interlinked.

He dismissed speculation on the seat-sharing talks with the Congress for the Lok Sabha polls. The seat-sharing arrangement was very much on and would be finalised shortly, he said. The term of the present Lok Sabha was till May 2009.

The possibility of elections in January 2009 had been ruled out as the revised voters’ list would be published only on January 5. He, however, declined to divulge details of his talks with Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at Lucknow’s Amausi airport in the last week of September.

Mr. Singh’s stand was at variance with the reported statement of his party’s national general secretary Amar Singh that the support to the Congress would be reviewed if it failed to order a judicial probe into the Jamia Nagar encounter. Mr. Amar Singh was misquoted, he said.

Notwithstanding the seat-sharing talks with the Congress, Mr. Singh said the SP was geared to contest all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh.

The demand for a judicial probe into the encounter is being seen as the SP’s effort to keep its core constituency of Muslims intact.

Mr. Singh said Batla House was like a hostel where about 200 students of Jamia Millia stayed and those killed in the encounter were educated youths.

Mr. Singh demanded that innocent persons should be released and there must be complete transparency in the probe.