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Friday, Oct 07, 2022

In a 12-hour, 200-policemen raid on a house, story of a former west UP MLA

Haji Yaqub Qureishi has survived poll losses, party changes and controversies. But with Yogi govt on heels of absconding leader, his luck may have run out

Haji Yaqub Qureishi, 63, is a controversial former MLA, an ex-deputy mayor and minister, and a leader who hopped across parties. (Express photo)

It took nearly 12 hours for 200 policemen to attach a five-storey house in Meerut’s Sarai Behleem, followed by sealing of a meat plant on Hapur road, on July 13. The policemen did so after failing to locate owner Haji Yaqub Qureishi, 63, a controversial former MLA, an ex-deputy mayor and minister, and a leader who hopped across parties, whose long run may finally be coming to an end.

With the MLA, his sons Imran and Feroz and wife Shamzida “absconding”, the police were executing a non-bailable warrant, leading to the raid in which items seized included mattresses, a washing machine, a fridge, a deep fridge, furniture, gas cylinders, a chandelier, TV sets, a ‘VIP seat’, and even crockery. The items are now lying at Kharkhauda Police Station in Meerut.

The family has been missing since a police team raided the Hapur road meat plant of Qureishi and seized meat being readied for export. The allegedly unlicensed factory had been sealed last year, but reportedly continued with its operations. Ten persons were arrested and jailed on April 1, followed by a case against Qureishi and other family members.

Later, a hospital owned by Qureishi was sealed by the Chief Medical Officer for reportedly running without a licence. A school owned by the family in Shastri Nagar is also under the scanner as it is allegedly yet to produce any proof of being recognised by a valid education board.

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The Meerut police have declared a reward of Rs 25,000 for any information on Qureishi and his sons, with special police and STF teams fanned out to their last known locations in Delhi and Rajasthan. Shamzida has got anticipatory bail.

“Following the court order, we have attached assets worth Rs 125 crore of Qureishi. We have formed several police teams to arrest the fugitives and are hopeful of producing them in court soon,” Meerut SSP Rohit Singh Sajwan said.

Qureishi’s rise and fall is a story well known in these parts. Those close to him say he began as a trader in jaggery, sometime in 1992. Within three years, he had made the jump to politics, and was elected councillor in 1995 and then Deputy Mayor.

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In 2002, Qureishi was elected as an MLA on a BSP ticket from Meerut’s Kharkhauda constituency, and was made a Minister of State next year. Denied a ticket in the 2007 Assembly polls, Yaqub floated his own outfit to contest, and after winning, merged it with the BSP.

In 2012, Qureishi made the jump to the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and contested the Assembly polls from Sardhana. This time, he lost to the BJP’s Sangeet Som.

In 2014, he tried his luck in the Lok Sabha polls, contesting on the RLD symbol from Moradabad, but losing to the BJP’s Sarvesh Kumar. By 2017, he was back in the BSP and contested from the Meerut South Assembly seat. He lost again, to the BJP’s Somendra Tomar.

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Qureishi though did not give up and in 2019, was back in the electoral race as a contender from Meerut-Hapur parliamentary constituency. While the BJP’s Rajendra Agarwal won, he stood second.

More than his poll record, though, Qureishi is known for courting controversy. He routinely attacks the RSS, suggesting that if voted to power, it would stop namaz. In 2015, he offered Rs 51 crore to behead a Danish cartoonist over a Prophet cartoon.

In 2017, he slapped a police constable, resulting in an FIR, but no action. In 2018, his son Feroz was accused of forcing his way into the office of a trader in Shahpeer locality in 2018. The case is pending in a local court, with no arrest made.

In 2015, Qureishi’s daughter Fatima hit headlines for allegedly forcing her way into a college event and beating up students she bore a grudge against.

“Qureishi is a habitual law offender and his family is no different. His meat plant at Hapur road had been sealed yet packaging of meat was being carried out with impunity. His game seems over this time as no person who disregards the law will be spared under the regime of Yogiji,” BJP leader Vineet Sharda says.

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RLD leader Sunil Rohta says the way Qureishi’s house had been attached, with doors broken open by police, reeks of “political vendetta”. “It is true that he was running his meat factory illegally despite it being sealed, but there are a number of meat-exporting plants in Meerut which operate without a licence,” he says.

The BSP’s Ramveer Khatana also sees Opposition “suppression” in the action against Qureishi. “Ever since Yogi Adityanath came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, it has been following the single-point agenda of wiping out the Opposition through blatant misuse of police and administrative machinery. Yaqub is the latest victim, and I am sure there will be many others in the BJP’s firing range in the future,” he says.

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On March 31, following the police raid on his premises, Qureishi said: “We are law-abiding citizens but police and administrative officials drag our name into various cases at the behest of the government time and again. I am hopeful I will come out clean as we have faith in the judiciary.”

First published on: 18-07-2022 at 04:19:22 pm
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