SP refuses to act against minister for scribe’s death

Lucknow, June 15 (IANS) The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) on Monday categorically refused to act against minister of state Ram Murti Verma, accused of ordering the killing of a journalist by setting him afire.

Mere lodging of an FIR cannot be the basis for the sacking of the minister, senior UP minister and SP chief spokesman Shivpal Singh Yadav said at a press conference.

“Just because someone has levelled allegations against someone does not prove that the accused is guilty,” said Shivpal Yadav, the younger brother of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

However, he added, the Akhilesh Yadav government would extend financial assistance to the bereaved family.

The top Samajwadi Party leadership, including party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, earlier toed the same line and defended Verma.

Social media journalist Jagendra Singh died of burn injuries after he was allegedly set ablaze by a senior police official during a raid at his house on June 1.

In a video recording made by senior IPS officer Amitabh Thakur during his meeting with the victim at the burns ward at a hospital in the state capital, Jagendra Singh accused Verma of letting loose his henchmen on him on April 28 and then getting him set on fire on June 1.

After a hue and cry in the media, the minister was booked in the case along with others. Five policemen were suspended.

The family of Jagendra begun a fast-unto-death from Sunday to press for the immediate sacking of the minister from the state cabinet and a CBI probe into the matter.

They also accused the minister and senior SP leader Mithlesh Kumar of trying to offer them money and threatening them with dire consequences.

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