Lucknow protesters win justice in Meher Bhargava murder case, India, 2006

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Time Period:  
25 March
5 April
Location and Goals
Location City/State/Province: 
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Immediate arrest of the accused and a Central Bureau of Investigations probe into the case.

On 28 February 2006 Meher Bhargava, a lawyer and wife of Indian National Congress leader Luv Bhargava, was shot. She was defending her daughter-in-law against the lewd comments of a group of men on the street in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Meher Bhargava was hospitalized, but died on 25 March. The day that she was shot, Sunny Rawat confessed to the murder but he retracted his statement the following day. It wasn’t until after her death that Congress began to mobilize to demand justice for Bhargava’s murder.

Lucknow High courts and other city courts closed until 27 March to protest the murder and Congress organized a candlelight protest march and vigil, also for the 27 March. Hundreds attended the march to the General Post Office (GPO) where they stopped and had the vigil, in front of the Gandhi Statue in the GPO park.

Part of the movement made up of women’s groups wanted to deliver a memorandum to the governor in Raj Bhavan, but they were stopped from doing so by the police. Members of Congress said that the march and vigil were organized in order to demand an immediate arrest of the accused in the case.

Also on 27 March, Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati called for a Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) probe into the case. She was supported by the members of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The leader of the Samajwadi Party, however, said that the probe was unnecessary. On 29 March, Mayawati petitioned the governor to force the Uttar Pradesh government to conduct a CBI probe. When the State Assembly announced that they would not, Congress members walked out on them.

Also on 29 March, Congress staged a protest in the Uttar Pradesh capital for the arrest of the killers. Fewer members of the city elite participated in this action than in the march and vigil due to the concern that the issue had become too politicized. The fact that Mayawati had accused the leader of the Samajwadi Party of being involved in the case since he rejected the CBI probe and the fact that Congress had not mobilized until after Bhargava’s death put the motivations of Congress into question in the eyes of the other members of the elite who were fighting for justice in the case.

Later, on 29 March, police engaged one of the men involved in the murder, Sanjay Pahadi, but he escaped. The police did manage to arrest Sunny Rawat that day, however. On 5 April, the court held an identification parade through which Rawat was accused by eye-witnesses. On 20 May, another man involved in the murder, Sachin Pahari was found by police and shot dead in a confrontation. Three other associates had been arrested, but were later acquitted.

On 4 June 2009, Rawat was sentenced to life in prison plus a 10,000 rupee fine.

Research Notes
TNN. "Meher's Murder: Candles Burn Bright in Protest." The Times Of India., 28 Mar. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

PTI. "Mehar Case: Mayawati Demands CBI Probe." The Times Of India., 28 Mar. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

"Mayawati Petitons Gov for CBI Probe in Meher Case." Greynium Information Technologies Inc., 29 Mar. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

PTI. "Mehar Murder: Eye-witnesses Identify Accused." The Times Of India., 5 Apr. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

NDTV Correspondent. "Meher Bhargava Dies." Parsi Khabar RSS. Wadias Inc., 28 Mar. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

TNN. "Life Term for Meher's Killer." The Times Of India., 6 June 2009. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

"Meher Bhargava Murder Acquires Political Colour.", 29 Mar. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

UNI. "Bhargava Women Lead Dharna against Meher Murder." Rediff India Abroad., 29 Mar. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

"Lucknow's Shame: No Law in Mulayam Land." Rediff India Abroad., 27 Mar. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

Hidustan Times. "'Killer' Identified in Meher Murder Case." High Beam Research. Cengage Learning, 06 Apr. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

PTI. "Meher Bhargava Murder: Main Accused Shot Dead." The Times Of India., 20 May 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Patricia Gutiérrez, 09/12/2012