A 50-YEAR-OLD man was shot dead in Hathras Monday, allegedly by a man accused of molesting his daughter two years ago. Police said the accused, Gaurav Sharma, had allegedly molested the victim’s daughter in 2018, following which a rivalry had ensued between the two families.
On Monday evening, the accused, along with five others, opened fire at her father inside their village in Hathras district, police said. The man was rushed to the nearest hospital where he was declared brought dead, they said.
The murder triggered a political firestorm in Uttar Pradesh with leaders of the ruling BJP claiming that the accused is a Samajwadi Party leader. The SP, however, denied the claim and criticised the government for
the law and order situation in the state.
“Police teams including senior officials reached the spot and found the injured victim. He died while on his way to hospital. It was found during investigation that the accused and victim had an argument, which escalated. The victim’s family had accused Gaurav of molestation in 2018 for which he was in jail for a month and later released on bail. One accused has been arrested and others will be caught soon,” said Vineet Jaiswal, SP Hathras.
According to police, the accused along with his wife and aunt were visiting a temple close to the house of the victim.
The victim’s daughters were also present at the temple and the two families got into an argument. Gaurav and the other accused then went to the victim’s field, where he was harvesting potatoes, and allegedly opened fire, police said.
The victim’s family has alleged that he was killed because of the complaint made by his younger daughter, on the basis of which a case of molestation was registered against Gaurav.
“Around 6-7 of them shot my father multiple times. He was in the potato farm and had nothing to do with the argument in the temple. Gaurav Sharma first molested me and when my father filed a case, he did this. I need justice,” the victim’s 25-year old daughter said in an emotional appeal outside the local police station.
An FIR for murder has been filed at the police station against Gaurav Sharma, Rohtas Sharma, Nikhil Sharma and Lalit Sharma, along with two other unnamed accused. While Lalit Sharma was arrested Tuesday, the others are absconding.
Multiple police teams are tracking the whereabouts of the accused, said a senior official.
The family alleged that the accused, for the past several years, would harass them, flaunt his “political connections” and pressure the victim’s daughter for friendship and later marriage.
“I have been raised in this village while Gaurav would visit his relatives here. In his pictures on social media, he can be seen brandishing guns. And he would do the same in the village. He often passed lewd comments and would ask me to become friends with him. Despite my refusal, he kept harassing me to get married to him. One day, when he saw me alone in the house, he molested me and then threatened my family,” said the victim’s daughter.
Police records show that the woman filed an FIR in July 2018 against Gaurav under IPC sections 354 (outraging modesty of a woman), 506 (intimidation) and 452 (house trespass). The FIR stated that since the accused was a distant relative, the victim had been in touch with him on the phone, and that he entered the house one day and molested the woman.
The statements of the accused had been recorded in a local court and trial is pending.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the woman said: “There was a time we were scared because his threats did not stop.
Then for one-and-a-half years, he didn’t say anything and we thought the worst was over. When his family saw us again, he became enraged. He’s a known SP worker and very influential.”
Gaurav originally hails from Shravasti where his father works in the government’s Agricultural Department. He would visit the victim’s village since his relatives lived here. Most of Gaurav’s political activities were limited to Aligarh, police said.
Taking to Twitter, BJP MP from Kannauj, Subrat Pathak, who is also the BJP state general secretary, posted: “Beware of the red cap [worn by SP workers]. This Samajwadi leader has killed the father of a Brahmin girl for opposing her molestation. The Samajwadi Party supports such criminals. Bigger the criminal, bigger the Samajwadi.”
In a press meet, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav did not address allegations that Gaurav was an SP member and was participating in the farmers’ protests on the behalf of the party.
“Ask the Chief Minister what he has to say about the Hathras daughter who is crying. Did you hear how she is crying? This is the situation in Uttar Pradesh, and the CM is roaming in Bengal. A delegation of the Samajwadi Party will soon go to meet her,” said Yadav.
However, Yadav lost his cool when a journalist pointed out that an FIR had been registered in the molestation case in 2018, and said, “You are sold (bikey hue). Her father died and you are doing drama. I know how you people get advertisements.”
SP spokesperson Juhie Singh said the accused “is neither a sitting office bearer in the party, nor he is a spokesperson”. Former SP MLA and former Forest State Minister Pawan Pandey posted pictures of the accused with Aligarh BJP MP Satish Gautam and alleged that they show he got shelter from the ruling party.