Hours after he was caught on video brandishing a gun at Hyatt Regency hotel, Ashish Pandey, son of former BSP MP Rakesh Pandey, sent a WhatsApp message to all his friends and relatives, asking them to ensure the video doesn’t go viral. “Dear friends, there is a viral video of me going around. It was a mistake, I made a mistake and I apologise for it. At this time, need you to stand by me and help me stopping this video going viral. I am really sorry I disappointed you and myself. Help me sort this mess up please,” he wrote in a WhatsApp group.
To this, one of his friends replied: “It’s already viral, bro. A friend sent it to me and I told him not to forward it.” Ashish then said “thanks” and left the WhatsApp group.
Meanwhile, a Delhi court Wednesday issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Ashish for brandishing the firearm and threatening a man and a woman following an argument at the R K Puram hotel. Police have recorded the statement of the duo, as well as of Ashish’s friends and relatives from Delhi and Lucknow.
“One of his friends showed a message to investigators, which was sent by Ashish at 12.14 am on Tuesday,” police sources said.
While the incident took place on Saturday night, the video spread in the coming days, prompting the Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju, to intervene.
Ashish, a realtor, hails from Lucknow and is the brother of Uttar Pradesh MLA Ritesh Pandey. Sources said that he switched off his phone around 9.30 am on Tuesday.
The NBW against Ashish was issued by Metropolitan Magistrate Ambika Singh. The court passed the order on a plea by Delhi Police, which had registered an FIR on a complaint from the assistant security manager of the hotel. “A police team was dispatched to the address of the accused but he could not be found,” an officer said.
In its plea, the police said Ashish was “deliberately evading the process of law”.
A team of the Delhi Police, in a joint operation with their Uttar Pradesh counterparts, raided several places on Wednesday, but in vain.
The Ambedkar Nagar district administration, meanwhile, suspended an arms license issued in 1999 to Ashish. Additional Director General (law and order) Anand Kumar, said, “So far, we have not found any past criminal cases against him.”
His brother Ritesh also issued a statement: “We are trying to collect information about the incident. No complaint was ever filed against Ashish before the incident… We are not defending him at any level. We are trying to produce him before the investigation agency.”