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UP vs Uttarakhand: Top officials from BJP-ruled states in war of words over Kashipur killing

After Uttarakhand ACS (home) Radha Raturi accuses UP Police of arresting 'innocent people', UP ADG Prashant Kumar retorts with strong words & Raturi walks back her remarks.

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Dehradun/Lucknow: Top officials from two neighbouring Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states have been engaged in public acrimony, with Uttarakhand additional chief secretary (home) Radha Raturi accusing the Uttar Pradesh Police of arresting “innocent people” and UP additional director general (law and order) Prashant Kumar retorting with strong words — after which Raturi walked back her remarks.

The exchange came in the wake of the death of Gurpreet Kaur, wife of Gurtaj Singh, a senior block pramukh of the BJP. Gurpreet was killed on 12 October at her husband’s farmhouse at Kashipur in Uttarakhand’s Udham Singh Nagar district allegedly during a police operation by a team of UP’s special operations group (SOG).

The incident has led to a controversy, with the Uttarakhand Police filing a case against 10-12 unnamed UP Police officers, while the latter booked 30-35 unidentified people.

Speaking to the media in Dehradun Monday after a marathon review meeting of the law and order situation, Raturi said in response to a question about the Kashipur incident: “Crime must be investigated in a proper way. Also, no innocent should be arrested. What UP Police do many times is that they arrest innocent people and claim to have solved the case. This is wrong.”

“If you punish one innocent person, it will give birth to 99 more criminals. Crime must be investigated in earnest and only criminals should be punished,” said Raturi, who is in charge of the state home department.

Reacting to Raturi’s words, UP ADG Prashant Kumar issued a strongly worded video statement late Monday evening, asking her to refrain from making such “irresponsible” remarks.

“UP Police have seen and heard the statement of Uttarakhand ACS (home). Without ascertaining the facts, the ACS (home) has issued an irresponsible statement. Any civil servant should refrain from making such statements, specifically, when it is linked with an issue pertaining to the largest and most sensitive state of the country. This statement is regrettable and not based on facts,” Kumar said.

Then, barely hours after Kumar’s statement, Raturi walked back her earlier remarks.

She told the media late Monday evening: “Subject of the press conference being talked about was that a crime has to be investigated in the right direction and culprits must get severe punishment. Police in all the states are doing good work, UP and Uttarakhand Police as well. There are several cases in which the two state police (forces) are working jointly to solve cases and also criminals are being nabbed. 

“The idea was that no innocent person should be trapped in false cases and action must be taken only against the guilty.”

Also Read: Four-year-old looks for mom, family demands CBI probe into Uttarakhand encounter

Woman killed in ‘crossfire’

UP Police officers claim that the team entered Singh’s farmhouse while they were in pursuit of Zafar Ali, an alleged criminal linked to the mining mafia with a reward of Rs 50,000 on his head. Officials further claimed that Ali, a resident of Thakurdwara in Moradabad, had found refuge at the farm house of Singh, who he knew from earlier.

Nilesh Anand, Uttarakhand deputy inspector general of police (DIG), Kumaon Range,  ad said Thursday that police officers from UP “weren’t in uniform and weren’t carrying ID cards”, adding that they “entered a house, fired and a woman lost her life in this”.

However, the UP Police claimed later that their counterparts in Uttarakhand were informed about the operation to capture Zafar in advance.

According to the UP Police, Zafar Ali was later arrested on 15 October following an encounter in Moradabad’s Bada Pool area.

UP Police tout ‘strong action’

Calling Raturi’s earlier remarks regrettable, UP ADG Prashant Kumar in his video statement also asserted that the UP Police’s efforts to keep criminal elements in check were praiseworthy.

“Does the [Uttarakhand] ACS (home) find Mukhtar Ansari and Vijay Mishra, who are convicted by the court, innocent? Does she find Zafar, who is a mining mafia and who previously held a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head… or Udham Singh Nagar’s senior block pramukh, innocent?,” he asked, referring to the husband of the deceased woman.

Kumar went further to add that the UP Police have taken “strong action” against the Popular Front of India (PFI), a now banned organisation.

“There should be an immediate stop on such nonfactual and irresponsible statements. After serious efforts, UP ranks high in the conviction rate of criminals involved in crime against women, all kinds of mafias and hardened criminals and will continue to take action against such criminals and strongly condemns such irresponsible statements,” he said. 

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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