Union Minister for Small Scale Industries Mahabir Prasad is facing a murder charge after a case was registered against him at the Gaghan police station of Gorakhpur district on Tuesday night.
Prasad,a four-time MP and three-time president of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh,is the only prominent Dalit face of the party in the state.
The FIR was lodged after the wife of the deceased appealed to the Allahabad High Court. Gorakhpur DIG Aditya Mishra said: Mahabir Prasad is alleged to have hatched a conspiracy to murder Ram Pragat of Ujjarpar village on January 28,2008. The victims wife has alleged that a gram pradhan,Rajesh Singh,had an altercation with her husband two days before the murder over a land dispute. She has also alleged that Rajesh is a close aide of the minister and the murder took place at the latters instance.
Prasad (69) belongs to the same village as the victim. While a chargesheet was filed in the case,it recorded Pragats death as a road accident,saying he had been hit by a jeep,and made no mention of either the gram pradhan or others. The driver of the jeep has been arrested.
Gaghan police station in-charge Virendra Yadav said: Complainant Subhawati Devi has alleged in an FIR that Rajesh Singh,his associate Gauri Shanker Gupta and some unidentified persons hit her husband,causing his death. She also alleged Prasad sheltered Rajesh and the minister too was involved in the murder conspiracy.
Circle Officer of Bansgaon Rajendra Singh,who is probing the case,visited the complainants village on Wednesday and recorded statements of 14 people,including Devi. The CO said Devi told him that the jeep which hit Pragat belonged to Prasad,but there was no mention of the jeeps owner in police documents related to the road accident case. The Gorakhpur DIG also said the jeep belonged to Prasad and was being used by the college run by his family.
Prasad,who was a primary schoolteacher at Ujjarpar in Baasgaon in Gorakhpur,doesnt have any other criminal case registered against him.
Terming the case a political conspiracy,he parried questions on his resignation. Asked if it would be morally correct for him to quit,he said: Whats moral about it? We have been winning elections and will do so.