LUCKNOW: The ruling Samajwadi Party, already on the back foot over the Gayatri Prajapati imbroglio, is now finding itself under immense pressure from various quarters to nab the tainted Minister. The Minister is an accused in a case of gang-rape and molestation.
Governor Ram Naik shot off a letter to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday asking him how the minister was still continuing to be a member in his cabinet. Raj Bhawan sources said that Naik sought the state government’s reasons to retain the tainted Transport Minister in cabinet even when he was booked under various sections of the IPC and against whom POCSO Act had been invoked.
Tightening the noose around Prajapati, Amethi district administration suspended Lekhpal Ashok Tiwari, a close aide of the Minister and a co-accused in the gang-rape case. State authorities also initiated letters of suspension to the respective departments of other two accused, Chandrapal and Rupesh. Chandrapal is a head constable at security headquarters in Lucknow and Rupesh works in the Secretariat.
State Director General of Police Javeed Ahmad said that police were making all out efforts to arrest the absconding Minister. Senior police officials said that cops were conducting raids on all possible hideouts in Lucknow, Kanpur, Unnao and Amethi to trace the minister who went absconding a day after casting vote in his constituency Amethi on February 27.
Meanwhile, close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Gayatri Prajapati Mantra’ jibe on Saturday, BJP chief Amit Shah said on Sunday that sending the accused minister behind the bars was one of the first tasks BJP would achieve after coming to power in the state. He was addressing an election rally in Ambedkarnagar in Uttar Pradesh.
Echoing Shah, state BJP chief Keshav Maurya said in a Tweet that if the UP Chief Minister was not able to catch hold of his ‘favourite’ absconding minister, he could at least sack him from his cabinet.
UP BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak also joined the diatribe against Prajapati by saying that Akhilesh Yadav was providing ‘protection’ to the rape accused minister on one hand and making tall claims during his election meetings on the other hand.
In the last couple of days, non-bailable warrants were issued against the absconding Minister and six other persons. His passport was impounded and a look-out notice was issued against him. On the directives of the Supreme Court issued on February 17, Uttar Pradesh police had lodged an FIR and invoked POCSO Act against Prajapati in connection with separate cases of gang-rape and attempt to rape another woman and her minor daughter the next day.