Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh BJP has begun distancing itself from the decision to appoint Shikhar Aggarwal — the main accused in the murder of Inspector Subodh Singh — as the district general secretary of the Prime Minister’s Welfare Schemes Awareness Campaign.
Aggarwal is among 33 men accused of being behind the mob violence at Sayana area of Bulandshahr, which was sparked by the discovery of a dead calf, in 2018.
A police team was attempting to pacify angry villagers when a mob attacked it. Police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh was shot and killed in the ensuing violence and his attackers even attempted to burn his body in his own official vehicle.
Out on bail, Aggarwal was recently handed over the certificate for the post by BJP’s Bulandshahr district president Anil Sisodia himself.
Sisodia has promptly distanced himself from the event ever since photos related to the event became viral on social media. Aggarwal has also been removed from the post.
Sisodia issued a statement Saturday claiming that the event was organised by a private institution and that he attended it as an “invited guest”.
According to Sisodia, he had “absolutely no information about Shikhar Aggarwal”.
“As chief guest, I distributed certificates to a number of people and Shikhar happened to be one of them,” his statement reads.
PMWAC run by private organisation: UP BJP
The BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit also maintained that the Prime Minister’s Welfare Schemes Awareness Campaign is run by a private organisation that has nothing to do with the party.
“Any private organisation might be organising programmes to promote the Prime Minister’s schemes,” state BJP spokesperson Naveen Srivastava said. “The real identity of such an institution is the subject of investigation. But it has nothing to do with the BJP.”
“The district president will definitely be questioned by the party as to why he handed over such a certificate to a person accused in the riots,” Srivastava told ThePrint. “The BJP is not in favour of glorifying or honouring any controversial person.”
He added that the party’s top leadership will be informed about the incident.
The organisation behind the event is also now claiming that it has nothing to do with the BJP.
Seven BJP MPs, however, including the BJP’s national vice-president Shyam Jaju and Union Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, are part of the committee.
The Prime Minister’s Welfare Scheme Awareness Campaign’s Western UP President, Dr. Yatendra Sen, insisted that it is a private committee that aims to promote the Modi government’s welfare schemes among the common public.
According to Yatendra, the committee will now launch a detailed probe to determine how Aggarwal’s name was included among those who received the certificate.
“The institution is certainly not in favour of giving certificates to any such accused,” Sen said.
Opposition up in arms
The opposition are now ramping up pressure on the BJP, saying such events are an indication of why the law and order situation is deteriorating in UP.
State Congress’s spokesperson Anshu Awasthi said an honest police officer in Bulandshahr saved Uttar Pradesh from being burnt and sacrificed his life in order to save it.
“Now BJP leaders are handing over certificates to Shikhar Aggarwal who was the main accused in murdering the police inspector. This clearly illustrates why crime is increasing in Uttar Pradesh and why there is jungle raj in the state,” he said. “When the BJP itself provides protection to such criminals, then this kind of outcome is natural. The true character of the Bharatiya Janata Party has now been exposed to the people of Uttar Pradesh.”
Aam Aadmi Party’s MP and its UP in-charge Sanjay Singh also tweeted slamming the BJP government.
“Why is the Yogi government and the BJP rubbing salt on the pain of martyr Subodh Singh’s family? Which officer of the UP Police will embrace martyrdom for the sake of duty?” he tweeted.
क्यों योगी सरकार और भाजपा शहीद सुबोध सिंह के परिवार के दर्द पर नमक छिड़क रही है? यू पी पुलिस का कौन सा अधिकारी ड्यूटी के लिये अपनी शहादत देगा, इंस्पेक्टर सुबोध सिंह की हत्या का प्रमुख आरोपी शिखर अग्रवाल BJP का पदाधिकारी और PM जन कल्याण योजना का महामंत्री बनाया गया। pic.twitter.com/lGy3a4lVNo
— Sanjay Singh AAP (@SanjayAzadSln) July 18, 2020
This, however, isn’t the first controversy surrounding those accused of the inspector’s murder. In August 2019, when seven of 33 accused, including Aggarwal, were granted bail, they were welcomed with flowers and garlands.