MAJOR (Retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, has cited demonetisation as a ground for his inability to pay the police accompanying him to Uttar Pradesh. Upadhyay, lodged at Taloja central prison in Navi Mumbai, has been granted permission by a special court in Mumbai to contest in the upcoming UP state elections. On Saturday, the court directed the Taloja superintendent to take Upadhyay to his constituency in UP for campaigning under the custody of a police escort party for not more than three weeks.
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Though Upadhyay had sought for the charges of the escort party to be waived off completely or for a part-payment in advance, it was rejected by the court.
Upadhyay has now written to the DCP Headquarters of the Navi Mumbai police, seeking part-payment of the expenditure of the policemen who will accompany him to UP. “The election campaign is being funded through public contribution and crowd-funding. Due to the effects of demonetisation, there is a bar on withdrawal of money from the bank accounts and there is an acute shortage of cash,” his letter to the police states.
DCP Sudhakar Pathare (HQ) said the application by Upadhyay has been received. “We have received the application. It is under process for consideration. We will look into the prayers made by the accused,” Pathare said.
Upadhyay has said in his plea to the police that since usually a strong escort team is demanded for accused in Maharashtra Control Organise Crime Act cases, it should not be considered in his case since NIA has dropped the charge. In allotting an escort team for an accused, the police considers criteria like the requirement of rank-wise personnel and the expenditure involved in travel, food and stay of the team.
A senior official of the Navi Mumbai police said they are taking a decision on the court’s directions to send a team with Upadhyay to UP. “The local police team will not be able to ascertain the law and order difficulties of another state while accompanying a terror undertrial during elections. We are looking at the issues and will communicate our concerns to the court if required,” the official said. Upadhyay plans to contest elections from Bairia constituency in his native town Ballia in eastern UP as an independent candidate. In 2012, he had contested from the same constituency as a candidate of Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha, but had lost to a Samajwadi party candidate.
Special Judge S D Tekale has permitted him to travel between February 6 and March 5 excluding the period of the journey. The other conditions put forth by the court include furnishing a list of his family members or friends (not more than five) who may be permitted to reside with him. He has also been directed not to contact witnesses or have a conversation with any person on the phone without prior permission of the commander of the escort party. The official is also directed to maintain a record of phone calls made and attended by Upadhyay and a list of people who visited him at his residence or in a private meeting.
Vishal, son and campaign manager of Upadhyay, said they will be seeking donations from the public for the election campaign.