Other States

In a U-turn, 'sole witness' says social media journalist committed self-immolation

Jagendra Singh

Jagendra Singh  

In his dying declaration, Jagendra, however, claimed he was burnt by the local police at the behest of Minister Ram Murti Verma.

The woman friend of Jagendra Singh, the alleged sole witness in the murder of the Shahjahanpur based social media journalist, made a complete U-turn and claimed in her statement given to the police on Tuesday that he was not burnt by police men, but immolated himself when the police raided his house to arrest him in a case registered against him on June 1.

However, Jagendra, in his dying declaration which was also video recorded moments before he breathed last and was watched by people the world over, had claimed that he was burnt by the local police at the behest of Minister Verma for writing against him.

The change in her stand can change the course of the investigation in the case and all the accused including the State Backward Classes Welfare Minister Ram Murti Verma may end up getting a clean chit from the police, reliable sources in the police told The Hindu. The woman’s statement that she made before police on Tuesday was also recorded before a magistrate on Wednesday. “She accepted before the police that Jagendra immolated himself when the police tried to arrest him on June 1. Her statement was also recorded before the magistrate under CrPc section 164,” senior Police officials told The Hindu.

Gang rape case

The woman, an anganwadi worker was present on the spot when Jagendra Singh was allegedly burnt by the cops who had reportedly barged into the journalist's house to warn him for writing against the Minister.

Interestingly, she is the same anganwadi worker who was allegedly gang-raped by Minister Verma and his friends, whose cause later Jagendra took up on social media for which allegedly he was subsequently attacked and killed.

She had moved a petition in the local Shahjahanpur station for registration of an FIR against Mr. Verma, inspector Sri Prakash Rai, Amit Pratap Bhadauria, Brahm Kumar Dixit and Gufran, alleging that they raped her in the PWD guest house on May 5.

First statement

In her earlier statement made to the media right after Jagendra succumbed to burn injuries on June 8, she had claimed that he was burnt by the cops at the behest of the UP Minister. It was her sole statement which led to nation-wide outrage against Jagendra's alleged murder.

She had earlier told the media that she was there with Jagendra was burnt she was there with him at his Shahjahanpur house when the cops including Inspector Sri Prakash Rai, along with few men affiliated to Minister Verma barged into Jagendra's house. Later, Gufran, a close aide of Minister Verma, forcibly took her outside Jagendra's house and stood outside the gate while the cops were preparing to burn him. When she somehow released herself from Gufran's hold and ran inside the house after hearing Jagendra scream, she found him burning. She had also claimed the cops also tried to pour petrol over her in order to burn her but somehow she managed to escape.

Change in statement

After the U-Turn in her stand police have deployed security outside her house. All this while the State police had maintained that Jagendra had immolated himself. The State Director General of Police (DGP) AK Jain on Wednesday reiterated that Jagendra’s death was due to self-immolation.

Reacting to this Jagendra’s son Rahul said that the change in her statement was due to the pressure of the accused Minister. “People in Shahjahanpur are terrified of him. No body dares to speak against him. She changed her statement due to threat by Minister Verma,” he said.

Local journalists told The Hindu on condition of anonymity that soon the anganwadi worker will withdraw the rape case against the Minister and she will be forced to give a public statement that Jagendra had made her file rape charges against him.

Jagendra was the only fearless friend the anganwadi worker had. “ He was the main source of strength for her who was gang raped by Minister Verma and his men. It was due to him that she had the courge to move a petition to get rape charges against them. Now that he is gone, she won’t be able to fight her own battle, let alone fighting for what they did to him,” said a local journalist.

Jagendra’s family which insisted that he was burnt for writing against Minister Verma, has registered a case pressing murder charges against the Minister and four cops who were later suspended.

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Printable version | Jul 13, 2020 1:55:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/up-journalist-jagendra-singh-death-main-witness-statement/article7329247.ece

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