NATIONAL

Congress demands CBI probe into arson

Atiq Khan

Pre-planned conspiracy by Mayawati government: Jaiswal

LUCKNOW: In the first official reaction from the Congress on the arson at the Lucknow residence of the party’s State unit chief, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Union Minister of State for Coal Sriprakash Jaiswal on Saturday demanded a CBI inquiry.

Accusing the Mayawati government of pre-planned conspiracy and the misuse of police machinery, Mr. Jaiswal condemned efforts to sweep the incident under the carpet and create an illusion that the vandalism was not masterminded by ruling party workers.

A probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation would unravel the truth, Mr. Jaiswal said, and demanded an apology from the Mayawati government.

Ms. Joshi’s residence had been torched by masked men late on Wednesday night. Four vehicles were also burnt.

Mr. Jaiswal, who was sent by the Congress high command to assess the situation in Lucknow, told reporters at the Pradesh Congress headquarters here that since the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party had not expressed regret for the incident, it was clear that it was a planned move.

Police’s role questioned

He alleged that the vandalism and arson were executed by ruling party “goondas” and questioned the role of the police, assailing attempts to pin the blame on the Congress. Since the incident occurred in a high security zone, it could not have been possible without the knowledge of the police, especially when the hoodlums took about 30 minutes to execute the crime and were allowed to escape, Mr. Jaiswal said.

If the State government was not satisfied with this, an FIR could have been lodged and an investigation conducted, Mr. Jaiswal said, terming Ms. Joshi’s remarks unfortunate. However, her anger was justified.

The Minister earlier visited Ms. Joshi’s residence, a stone’s throw away from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in the Lal Bahadur Shastri Annexe Bhavan.

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