Lucknow/ Ballia, Aug 25 (PTI) A police officer was suspended while six people arrested in connection with the murder of a journalist in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia.
Ratan Singh (45), who worked with a Hindi news channel, was shot dead on Monday night in the Phephana police station area of the district.
The incident has drawn flak from the opposition, which has alleged 'poor' law and order and accused the state government of failing to curb crime.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the deceased and offered condolences.
An official spokesperson in Lucknow said the chief minister has directed officials to ensure strict action against the accused.
Ballia Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sanjay Yadav said on the complaint of the journalist’s father, six people-- Sushil Singh, Dinesh Singh, Arvind Singh, Suneel Singh, Vir Bahadur Singh and Vinay Singh--have been arrested.
He said the complaint was lodged against 10 people.
The Phephana police station in-charge, Shashi Mauli Pandey, has been suspended and efforts are on to nab the remaining accused, the ASP said.
The ASP said the journalist's father, Vinod Singh, alleged that Sonu Singh of their village had called his son to his house around 8 pm where the accused were waiting with lathis and a revolver and they killed him.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar had stated on Monday night that Ratan Singh had a property dispute with his neighbour and after a fight between the two, he was shot dead.
Accused Dinesh Singh is the parcener (pattidar) of Ratan Singh. An old enmity and a property dispute with the neighbour led to the journalist's murder, a senior police official said. He said Ratan Singh's killing had nothing to do with his being a journalist. 'Action under the National Security Act and the Gangster Act will also be ensured against the accused,' he said.
Local journalists in Ballia have demanded an ex gratia of Rs 1 crore and a government job for the wife of the deceased.
Meanwhile, the Opposition lashed out the Uttar Pradesh government, expressing concern over mediapersons' security and the law and order situation. Reacting to the incident, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a tweet that the UP government’s attitude towards the 'security and freedom of journalists' is condemnable.
Tagging a graph showing incidents of crime in the past two days, she alleged that the Yogi Adityanath government “tries to cover up” crime but it has now spilled on to the roads.
In a separate tweet, she said in the past three months, three journalists-- Shubham Mani Tripathi, Vikram Joshi and Ratan Singh--have been killed while FIRs have been lodged against 11.
The Samajwadi Party also took to Twitter, announcing a financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh to the family of the journalist.
The party tweeted that the journalist was killed due to “collapsed law and order” in Ballia district.
“The SP demands Rs 50 lakh assistance to the victim's family by the state government,' the party said in the tweet.
Earlier in the day, BSP president Mayawati hit out at the state government, accusing it of failing to check criminal activities “despite frequently using stringent laws such as the National Security Act”.
She said it was because of the 'wrong use of legislations' that neither there is the rule of law nor the fear of law left in people. People associated with the media are facing atrocities and also being killed, the BSP supremo said. PTI ABN CORR/SAB RDK RDK