LUCKNOW: Tightening the noose around rape-accused minister Gayatri Prajapati, Amethi district administration has suspended Lekhpal Ashok Tiwari, a close aide of the minister and a co-accused in the gang-rape case.
State authorities have also initiated letters of suspension to the respective departments of the other two accused—Chandrapal and Rupesh. Chandrapal is a head constable at the security headquarters in Lucknow while Rupesh works at the Secretariat.
The ruling Samajwadi Party, already on the backfoot over the Gayatri Prajapati imbroglio, is now finding itself under immense pressure from various quarters to nab the tainted minister who is an accused in a gang-rape and molestation case.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik made the terse remarks in a letter to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, seeking to know if he “justifies” having the tainted minister in his Cabinet. Police are searching for the minister and is trying to arrest him, the governor said in his letter. There are apprehensions that he might have fled to some foreign country, he noted.
State Director General of Police Javeed Ahmad said that police were making all efforts to arrest the absconding minister. Senior police officials said 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 of 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 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.
Prajapati holds transport department portfolio in CM Akhilesh Yadav’s Council of ministers, but is facing arrest following a Supreme Court order to lodge an FIR against him for his alleged role in a rape case.
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.
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 also issued against him.
On the directives of the Supreme Court issued on February 17, the Uttar Pradesh police 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.