This Article is From Jun 16, 2015

UP Journalist's Death: No Sacking of Ministers Without Investigation, Says State Government

UP Journalist's Death: No Sacking of Ministers Without Investigation, Says State Government

UP minister Ram Murti Singh Verma (C).

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government said on Monday that it would not sack any of its ministers without investigation, days after a cabinet minister was accused of orchestrating the murder of a journalist in the state.

"Some issues have come up. So, I want to tell you that no minister will be sacked without probe," Cabinet minister Shivpal Yadav told reporters when asked about minister Ram Murti Verma's alleged involvement in murder of a journalist in Shahjahanpur.

"We will not sack anyone as allegations were levelled earlier as well, but proved baseless after probe. Be it the Badaun case (alleged rape of Dalit sisters) or allegations against minister Raja Bhaiya (Raghuraj Pratap Singh)... all were proved wrong. Raja Bhaiya was given a clean chit by the CBI later," Mr Yadav said.

When asked if any enquiry was held from the accused minister, Mr Yadav said: "interrogation is going on... probe is on."

Mr Verma is an accused in the murder of journalist Jagendra Singh, who was allegedly set on fire by policemen on June 1 during a raid at his Awaas Vikas Colony house in Sadar Bazar, Shahjahanpur.

Mr Singh's family had registered an FIR against minister Ram Murti Verma and five others including policemen at Puwayan police station of Shahjahanpur after he died during treatment at a hospital here on June 8.

The FIR was lodged under IPC 302 (murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

The video footage of dying declaration which went viral on news channels and social media showed Jagendra Singh stating, "Why did they have to burn me? If the minister and his goons had a grudge, they could have beaten me instead of pouring kerosene and burning me."

The journalist had posted reports on Facebook about illegal mining activities and land grabbing against the minister.

The incident has not only raised a storm among the journalistic fraternity, political parties, and social activists, but also Washington-based US Journalists watchdog, which called for swift, credible and transparent investigation in the case.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has also been filed in the the Allahabad High Court seeking directions for CBI probe and strict action against erring persons in the journalist's murder case.

When asked about allegations on another state minister Kailash Chaurasia for assaulting a transport department official in Mirzapur, the senior UP cabinet minister said probe is on in the matter.

Meanwhile, Mr Yadav claimed that the law and order situation in UP was the best among all states and said that women are safe in Uttar Pradesh even after dark.

Mr Yadav, who holds the portfolio of Public Works Department, Irrigation, Flood Control, Land Development & Water Resources among others, alleged that the central government was not co-operating with the state and not releasing money for 120-km long Saryu canal project in UP.