Shrikant Tyagi, who was booked by police last Friday after he was caught on video pushing and abusing a woman at the Grand Omaxe residential society in Noida, was arrested from Meerut on Tuesday.
Senior Uttar Pradesh Police officers said Tyagi, who was absconding ever since an FIR was registered against him, kept changing locations and devices to evade arrest.
Noida Police Commissioner Alok Singh said Tyagi claimed that he had got the “vidhayak” (MLA) sticker on one of his vehicles “through (former MLA) Swami Prasad Maurya”.
Maurya, a former BJP MLA, joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) ahead of the Assembly elections earlier this year. He lost the elections, and is currently a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC). Speaking to reporters in Kushinagar on Tuesday, Maurya denied having given the “vidhayak” sticker, and said he had not met Tyagi for the last four years.
Addressing a press conference, Singh said: “The vehicles seized from the accused run in 001 UP 32 series. He bid for each number plate, and each cost around Rs 1,10,000. On one vehicle, there is a vidhayak sticker. On questioning, he said he was provided the sticker through Swami Prasad Maurya. Tyagi’s driver also painted a UP government symbol on his car on his instructions. We will be taking action against the accused under the Gangster Act. So far, five cars have been recovered – two Fortuners, two Safaris and a Honda Civic – some in his name and some in his wife’s name.”
The sticker and VIP number plates, according to a Noida Police press release, were aimed at creating fear among the public. Police said Tyagi would also use his uncle’s licensed pistol to instil fear.
This is the first time the administration has acknowledged a link between Tyagi and a former BJP leader. As reported by The Indian Express, even as BJP leaders denied any link with Tyagi, a 2018 letter had confirmed his affiliation to the party.
The Indian Express had also reported that Tyagi had been provided police protection between October 2018 and February 2020. On Tuesday, the Noida Police chief said: “Gunners were provided to the accused until 2020 by the Ghaziabad police and, for that, a high-level inquiry is already underway.”
“During questioning, Tyagi did admit that the way he behaved that day in anger… his behaviour towards the woman was not right,” said Singh.
On Monday, Tyagi’s lawyer had filed a surrender petition in Surajpur Court. The petition was to be heard on Wednesday.
Giving details of the operation to nab Tyagi, Singh said: “First, eight teams were constituted by the Noida Police. It was a massive team effort. As per requirements, these teams were increased to 12. The main accused was continuously chased. He went outside the UP border but our teams used human and technical intelligence and worked with other agencies… We also kept tracking the people who hid the main accused.”
Police said that a bounty of Rs 25,000 was issued for Tyagi’s arrest and CCTV footage was gathered from several locations to trace him. Although police were constantly on his tail, Tyagi would escape just 15-20 minutes before police would reach his last traced location, said sources.
“He went to Delhi airport and then left for Meerut on Friday. Next day, he changed all his devices, and left for Rishikesh via Haridwar. On Sunday, he re-entered UP. After Sunday evening, he changed his devices, and then was traced around Meerut, Baghpat and Muzaffarnagar. He kept moving around in different vehicles and was on the run for almost three-and-a-half days. Our teams kept tracking his movements and the various vehicles. We caught him from Meerut today,” said Singh.
Police said they had received information that Tyagi would be travelling with an associate, Rahul, from Rishikesh to Noida via the Delhi-Meerut Expressway and would try to surrender before the court. Four teams intercepted his vehicle.
Three other men, identified as Rahul, Nakul Tyagi and Sanjay, were arrested with Tyagi, police said. In a press note, the Noida Police said Tyagi and Rahul were allegedly involved in criminal activities.
With the police and administration under fire for failing to take sufficient action against Tyagi and to protect residents of the Noida society, Singh said: “We have, for the past two-and-a-half years worked against organised crime and crimes against women. We have zero tolerance for crimes against women and will continue to serve the expectations of the people.”
Meanwhile, an ANI report said that while being taken to court, Tyagi told the media: “I express my regret on the incident. She’s like my sister. The incident is political and was done to politically decimate me.” Additional DCP, Central Noida, Ankita Sharma said Tyagi has been sent to judicial custody for 14 days.