In an embarrassment for Samajwadi Party, its controversial candidate from Kanpur Cantt Atiq Ahmed, who is a mafia don-turned-politician, has been booked for assault, prompting BSP on Thursday to ridicule Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s claims on law and order.
In less than a week after he was declared SP candidate, an FIR was registered against Ahmed for allegedly assaulting the staff of Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences (SHIATS) on the outskirts of Allahabad on Wednesday.
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“A case has been registered against Ahmed and four of his supporters under IPC sections pertaining to rioting, unlawful assembly, dacoity and criminal intimidation on the basis of the complaint by SHIATS Public Relations Officer Ramakant Dubey,” Senior SP (Allahabad) Shalabh Mathur said, adding 50 other unnamed persons have also been named in the FIR.
Ahmed has, however, denied the allegations. Taking a dig at Akhilesh over his claims on cutting down response time of state police, BSP supremo Mayawati termed the alleged manhandling of university staff by Ahmed as a “slap on the face of state government.”
“The Chief Minister makes tall claims about law and order and development, but the entire nation knows that ever since this government came to power, 22 crore people of the state have been living under threat and fear of criminals,” she said in a statement in Lucknow.
“Government advertisements have been put up on ‘UP-100’ (helpline) cutting police response time to 20 minutes and in this light, the goondagardi (hooliganism) of Atiq Ahmed in Allahabad, as reported in media, is a slap on the face of SP government,” she said.
The BSP supremo also challenged the Chief Minister to send goonda and mafia elements associated with his party to jail.
As the incident acquired a political hue, state SP President Shivpal Yadav sought to downplay it, saying he had come to know about it through media. In a damage control effort, Shivpal said, “Action will be taken against him after probe. Before he is found guilty, how can any action be taken against him?”
Besides Ahmed, gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s brother has also been given ticket to contest the upcoming Assembly elections by Shivpal. The candidatures of the controversial leaders were announced on Saturday, triggering instant condemnation from opposition parties on the choice of SP nominees having criminal background.
Shivpal had released a list of 23 candidates, bearing the stamp of approval by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, as sitting Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED) MLA Sigbatullah Ansari (Mukhtar Ansari’s brother), was renominated from Mohammadabad in Ghazipur.
QED’s merger with Samajwadi Party had been openly opposed by Akhilesh and the issue became a flashpoint in the feud in the Yadav clan ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections. Atiq, in the meantime, claimed that he had gone to the institute “to meet the Vice-chancellor with a request to reconsider the expulsion of students–Mohd Saif and Shaqip, who were recently rusticated for allegedly misbehaving with a faculty member”.
Meanwhile, CCTV footage of the alleged assault by the SP leader and his supporters was shared with the police and media. Named in dozens of criminal cases, Ahmed hogged limelight when his name cropped up in the murder of young BSP MLA Raju Pal, who was gunned down in broad daylight on January 25, 2005.
The murder case was handed over to CBI on Supreme Court order in January this year.