A MASSIVE hunt has been launched to trace Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati and his six associates wanted in a case of alleged gangrape of a woman and molestation attempt on her minor daughter. The case was lodged at Gautampalli Police Station here on February 18, a day after a direction from the Supreme Court.
Prajapati’s passport has been suspended to ensure that he does not flee the country and a lookout notice has been issued against him. Uttar Pradesh DGP Javeed Ahmad said they have obtained a non-bailable warrant against Prajapati and the other accused.
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Prajapati, who is contesting the assembly election from Amethi on a Samajwadi Party ticket, was sacked as mining minister last year but taken back into the Akhilesh Yadav Cabinet within a week. He was allotted the Transport Ministry.
Prajapati, who had Y-category security, was last seen in public during the voting in Amethi on February 27. Amethi SP Anees Ahmad Ansari said policemen deployed for his security returned on March 2, saying the minister had left for an undisclosed location.
On Sunday, a police team was sent to Delhi and Sonebhadra to search possible hideouts of Prajapati. DIG (Lucknow Range) Praveen Kumar said raids were being conducted across the state to trace the accused. UP’s STF has also been put on the job.
The police have also conducted raids at the residences of six other accused — Ashok Tiwari, Rupesh, Chandrapal, Vikas Verma, Pintoo Singh and Ashish Shukla.
According to the police, Vikas is the son of Additional City Magistrate T P Verma, who is posted in Lucknow, Ashok Tiwari a revenue clerk in Amethi, Rupesh the additional personal secretary in the state Secretariat and Chandrapal a police head constable. Pintoo Singh is one of Prajapati’s representatives in Amethi and Ashish Shukla is a contractor.
Investigating officer in the case, DSP Anita Singh, said the statement of woman, aged around 36, and her 16-year-old daughter, who is undergoing treatment at AIIMS in Delhi, have been recorded.
The victim’s lawyer, Mehmood Pracha, alleged that his client and two prosecution witness were threatened and that he had filed a complaint with the Delhi Police.
According to Pracha, the woman came in contact with Prajapati during a public function in 2013 or 2014. Since then Prajapati’s associates used to regularly pressure her to come to Lucknow and join the party. “When she did not come, the accused started calling her on the pretext of alloting her a mining block,” he alleged.
In her complaint to the police, the victim alleged that around three years ago, Prajapati called her to his residence — at Gautam Palli — through his associate Ashok Tiwari and promised to allot her a mining block in Hamirpur. When she reached there, she was allegedly served drug-laced tea. She alleged after Prajapati and Ashok then raped her and took her photographs, adding that they later started blackmailing her and called her regularly to Prajapati’s other residence at Park Road where she was sexually abused.
Pracha said the minister did not allot any mining block to the victim. He alleged that the accused later “promised the woman to return her photographs” and asked her to come to Lucknow on July 16 last year. “The victim came along with her 12-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter,” he said.
In her police complaint, the victim did not mention the date but stated that Prajapati asked her to leave her daughter with him. When she refused, Prajapati, Ashok Tiwari and Ashish Shukla allegedly tried to rape her daughter.