Seven years after politician Amar Mani Tripathi and his wife Madhumani were sentenced to life for the killing of Madhumita Shukla, the family is back in the news, this time because of the exploits of their son.
Aman Mani Tripathi has been booked for kidnapping a Gorakhpur businessman and trying to extort Rs 1 lakh. Two months earlier, he was named in FIRs for a clash among Samajwadi Party members.
Aman Mani, eldest child of the Tripathis, has been dabbling in politics — he lost an assembly election in 2012 —while his sisters Tanushree and Alankrita are in London, reportedly for higher studies.
Information about his age is contradictory. His uncle Ajit Mani Tripathi puts it at 27 or 28, and says Aman was in school in Dehradun in 2005 when he was put under his care in Gorakhpur, following Amar’s arrest. Aman’s poll affidavit, however, had declared his age as 29, which would make him 31 now.
Amar Mani, formerly a BSP minister, contested from jail in 2007 as the SP’s assembly candidate from Lakshmipur. Aman Mani plunged into the campaign, addressing rallies where he would tell people his father had been falsely implicated. Amar Mani won comfortably. After he was sentenced in 2007, the party fielded Ajit Mani from Maharajganj in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Aman Mani again campaigned extensively, but his uncle lost.
In 2012, Aman Mani was fielded from Nautanwa, into which Lakshmipur had been merged. That March, his father was shifted from Haridwar jail to Gorakhpur prison and is said to have monitored his son’s poll debut from Baba Raghav Das Medical College, where he was ostensibly under physiotherapy. Aman Mani lost with a slender margin, 7,000-odd votes. His uncle Shyam Narayan Tiwari too lost; he is a five-time MLA once sentenced to death in a murder case of 1968, but later pardoned by the President.
Local SP leaders say Aman Mani has upset many old associates of Amar Mani with his high-handed ways. SP Maharajganj district president Jamuna Yadav, however, says the entire party is with the Tripathis. He blames the opposition of being behind two FIRs lodged against Aman Mani on June 2.
During an SP meeting in Maharajganj to discuss the election rout, a candidate, Akhilesh Singh, had accused Aman Mani of having supported the BJP nominee against him. Incidentally, Akhilesh is the elder brother of Kaushal Kishore, who had defeated Aman Mani in 2012. A clash followed and four FIRs were lodged at Kotwali police station, two of these against Aman Mani and others. One was filed by Sant Ram, a Dalit, who alleged Aman Mani and others had abused him with casteist remarks. Station house officer Pharendra Yadav said they are probing all four FIRs; no one has been arrested.
Ajit Mani said the cases were lodged to intimidate his nephew. “Opposition leaders are worried by his growing popularity. In the last two months, three cases have been registered against him. The case in Lucknow was planned to cast Aman Mani in poor light before the SP leadership,” he said.
In the Lucknow case, complainant Rishi Kumar Pandey, 57, has accused Aman Mani and two associates of kidnapping him while he and his family were taking his wife Sheila to a Lucknow hospital. “Aman Mani removed the oxygen mask from my wife’s mouth while threatening us,” Pandey said, adding Aman Mani “released” them after his daughter-in-law called up police.
Aman Mani has been booked under IPC sections for kidnapping and extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt. The station officer of the Gautampali police station, Surendra Kumar Katiyar, said police sent a team to his home in Lucknow’s Hazratganj but couldn’t find him.
“The son is moving in the same direction as his parents,” said Kaushal Kishore.
Since March 2013, Amar Mani and Madhumani have been in Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur. Madhumita’s sister Nidhi Shukla has written to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav protesting that they have made a mockery of their imprisonment. She has also demanded a medical board to ascertain their condition, alleging that Amar Mani is running a durbar in his hospital room.
Amar Mani was a minister in the Mayawati government when he was convicted in 2003 of killing Madhumita, who was pregnant. In 2007, a Dehradun court sentenced Amar and his wife to life imprisonment. In 2012, the Uttarakhand High Court upheld it.
Last year, the couple sent a mercy petition to the Uttar Pradesh governor seeking a pardon on grounds of health and family responsibilities. The UP government, however, routed it to Uttarakhand, the state where they had been tried.