July 05, 2020
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There Were Shots But No Lead

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There Were Shots But No Lead
There Were Shots But No Lead
"Don’t turn it into another Jessica Lall case...." The plea from the grieving relatives and friends of Meher Bhargava left UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav speechless. All he could mumble was, "I know, action will be taken." Everyone who knew Meher, wife of senior UP Congress leader Luv Bhargava, congregated at her Lucknow residence on March 26, when her body was flown in here from Delhi’s Apollo hospital. She had died the previous day. Meher was shot in cold blood almost a month ago.

What shocked Lucknowites the most was that the incident took place in the heart of the city, Hazratganj. And that too bang opposite the SSP’s office. All the accused are history-sheeters, with even murder writ along their names. The police had all along claimed to be clueless on the killers. But on March 29, they announced that they’d had an ‘encounter’ with Meher’s killer in the city. ‘Main accused’ Sachin Pahari, though, managed to escape with bullet wounds. As we go to press, a massive manhunt is on to nab him. Two of Pahari’s accomplices were arrested minutes before the encounter in the busy Kaiserbagh area. Earlier, the police had arrested K.D. Singh, an influential SP politico who has just won the block pramukh polls.

A bit on the timeline. On February 28, Meher had gone to the residence of her daughter-in-law Kavita. Meher was sitting in her car waiting when she overheard four young men —Pahari, Sunny Rawat and two others— passing lewd remarks at her daughter-in-law. (Rawat has been identified as the "main killer" by Meher’s driver). Meher raised strong objections. While three of them apologised, the fourth one whipped out a .32 bore gun and shot her in the neck. Recalls Kavita: "I was inside when I heard the gunshot. I came out running and found my mother-in-law lying in a pool of blood."

"This is happening to people like us who are influential...you can imagine the plight of an ordinary citizen," says a grief-stricken Shiraz, Meher’s son.

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