Aam Aadmi Party MLA and incharge of its Gujarat affairs Gulab Singh Yadav was Tuesday sent to 14 days in judicial custody in connection with an extortion case by a Delhi court which declined police’s plea seeking his custodial interrogation. Yadav, who was arrested from Gujarat and brought here on transit remand, was produced before Metropolitan Magistrate Kishor Kumar who remanded him to judicial custody. The police sought five-day custody of Delhi’s Matiala legislator saying they needed to interrogate him as it seemed that an organised extortion racket was being run. The police plea was opposed by Yadav’s counsel who said the other accused in the case have already been granted bail.
Last month, two property dealers, Deepak Sharma and Rinku Diwan, had alleged that Satish and Devinder, who worked in Yadav’s office, and an associate Jagdish were extorting money from them by threatening to get a building, where the property dealers were operating from, demolished. A case under section 384 (punishment for extortion) IPC was registered at Bindapur police station on September 13.
Following this, a non-bailable warrant was issued against the MLA on October 14 for allegedly not joining probe.
Police had alleged that the MLA was arrested under charge of running an extortion racket and there was concrete evidence against him for his arrest.
It had alleged that the probe and statements by the arrested accused have revealed that it was an “organised extortion syndicate” with “links” to Yadav and he was the kingpin of the extortion exercise and its management.
Since Delhi Police issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against AAP MLA from Matiala Gulab Singh Friday, the party has found a new poster boy in its Gujarat state in-charge. Top party leaders, including AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal, have kept social media abuzz with how the AAP leader’s “good work” has made the party’s political opponents feel ‘threatened’, who are trying to gun for Singh ahead of Kejriwal’s Surat rally Sunday.
As Singh was expected to arrive in the capital Monday evening, party leaders and volunteers waited at the police station to give him a hero’s welcome. Singh, who joined the anti-corruption movement during its formative days and has since been a Kejriwal loyalist, has been one of the party’s trusted foot soldiers. Even after he lost his first election in the 2013 assembly polls in Delhi, Singh was entrusted with the key responsibilities of organisation building and election management, as the fledgling political party tightened its foothold in the capital.
In 2014, when Kejriwal contested the parliamentary elections against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi, Singh was put in charge of one of the assembly constituencies under the seat. This was no mean task as only the most trusted of Kejriwal’s aides were roped in for such a responsibility. Though 37-year-old Singh did not officially hold any key portfolio in the party initially, his organisational and election management skills were repeatedly acknowledged and put to use.
He was fielded from Matiala yet again last year in the assembly polls and after he won the seat, the top leadership did not immediately engage him with portfolios in the government, but kept aside a more challenging task for him. While the decision to contest the Punjab assembly polls in 2017 was taken by the party much earlier last year, fighting the elections in Goa and Gujarat was an afterthought after volunteers from the respective states insisted about promising prospects. Singh was dispatched to Gujarat to get a feel of the ground situation and after he backed the local report, Kejriwal handpicked him to oversee the poll preparations in the state.
“He is the only MLA who sends both his children to a government school, one is in Class VII and the other in Class XI. Singh is young, honest and full of promise. The fact that he is the 14th AAP MLA to be arrested itself says a lot. We do not need to explain any longer. This has now become a joke. Delhi Police was in such a hurry to arrest him that they flew down to Surat, but they lost that sense of urgency soon after the arrest and went back to Delhi by train. It is ridiculous,” AAP cabinet minister Kapil Mishra said.
Mishra has also been overseeing poll preparations in Gujarat and working closely with Singh over the past few months. “There were over 40,000 people at Kejriwal’s rally Sunday, despite threats from the local administration. They (BJP) wanted to threaten us and the local people into not going ahead with the rally… but they failed miserably.”
According to party leaders, Singh was once a property dealer but maintained that they did not know much about his business. “He is so busy with party activities that he barely finds time for his business now. That is all we know. We have no idea of the case lodged against him. In fact, the charges being levelled against our MLAs are so baseless that we have stopped inquiring about them within the party now. We know he will come out clean,” said a senior party functionary.