ON SUNDAY afternoon, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi joined hands to underline the theme of their alliance for the assembly elections next month — progress, prosperity and clean governance. On one issue, at least, that’s easier said than done.
WATCH VIDEO | Samajwadi Party Government Moved To Bury 19 Cases Against Political Leaders For UP Polls
An investigation of official records by The Indian Express has revealed that over the last five years, the SP government moved to bury at least 19 cases against senior political leaders from the state. These covered a wide range of alleged offences: from rioting, fraud and kidnapping to extortion and, in one case, even culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The beneficiaries include seven state ministers, 10 SP MLAs, the BJP MP from Agra Ram Shankar Katheria and senior BJP leader and Union Minister Kalraj Mishra. In each case, the application for withdrawal was filed in court on grounds of “public interest and interest of justice”.
The list of cases includes one under the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, against Minister Raghuraaj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, which was withdrawn in July 2014. It also contains history-sheeters and SP MLAs Abhay Singh and Vijay Mishra. Singh’s case was withdrawn in February 2014, while the petition on Mishra’s case is pending.
Six SP Ministers and seven of the 10 MLAs from the party — except Vijay Mishra and Bhagwan Sharma — on the list have been given tickets to contest the polls next month.
Bikapur MLA Mitrasen Yadav passed away in 2015. Raja Bhaiya contested as an Independent in 2012.
The withdrawal application in a case against Kalraj Mishra, for holding a public meeting without permission in Pilibhit in 2009, is pending. The government also filed withdrawal pleas in five cases against the other BJP leader on the list, Ram Shankar Katheria, including for protests at a power sub-station in Agra. Katheria, former Union Minister of State for HRD, lost his berth last July following a “hate speech” he delivered at a condolence meeting in Agra last February.
While various UP government counsel and the accused confirmed the move to withdraw the cases by the administration, no official was willing to explain the rationale behind the action, citing “the political atmosphere” in the state with the onset of elections.
Principal Secretary (Home) Debashish Panda declined to comment on these cases. Speaking on behalf of the government, Cabinet Minister and Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary said, “I have no information about this.”