LUCKNOW: A day after his two sons and a nephew were detained and interrogated, tainted former transport minister and gang-rape accused Samajwadi Party leader Gayatri Prajapati was arrested by the UP police and the sleuths of Special task Force (STF) here on Wednesday morning.
Gayatri was later presented in district court and had been sent to 14-day judicial custody.
The former transport minister, along with his six accomplices, is an accused at a gang rape and sexual assault case of a woman and her minor daughter.
While the Director General of UP Police, Javeed Ahmed, confirmed the arrest, ADG (Law and Order) Daljeet Chaudhary said that the accused former minister was held in state capital by a team of Lucknow police and STF sleuths.
"With the arrest of former minister, the investigation is now in the final stage in the case. With this arrest, all the seven accused named in the case have been held. Now on the basis of the evidence collected by the investigating teams of UP police and STF, a charge sheet in the case will soon be submitted in the court," ADG (L&O) said.
The Supreme Court, on February 17, had directed the state government to book the then transport minister Prajapati and his six cohorts for gang-raping a woman at his official residence in Lucknow and also sexually assaulting her minor daughter several times.
The apex court had also directed the UP police to submit a report on actions being taken regarding the incident, in eight weeks at a sealed cover.
Subsequently, the state police lodged a case under various sections of IPC against Parajapati and his aides on February 18 in compliance with the SC order. The state government had also invoked POCSO against the then minister.
Prajapati, known to be SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav's loyalist who unsuccessfully contested the recently concluded Assembly elections from Amethi, had been absconding from since February 27, the day his constituency went to the polls.
He had also allegedly been involved in a mining scam while holding the portfolio in Akhilesh Yadav’s ministry last year.
As a result, the then CM Akhilesh had sacked him but reportedly reinstated later on the insistence of Mulayam.
On Tuesday, in a bid to mount pressure on Prajapati, Lucknow Police had detained and interrogated his two sons – Anurag and Anil-- and a nephew, Verendra, to extract clues about his whereabouts.
A non-bailable warrant, along with a look-out notice was issued and the state police had been contemplating moving to the court on Wednesday to seek orders for
attaching his properties in Lucknow and Amethi.
According to sources, the minister’s sons had given clues about some contacts who were expected to be in touch with the minister.
“We took their call details and zeroed in on suspected locations,” said a senior police officer associated with the probe.
Parajapti’s three other aides -- Rupeshwar, Amrendra Singh alias Pintu and Vikas Verma -- who were also named in the gang-rape case along with the tainted minister, were picked up by the UP police from Hazaratganj area earlier on Tuesday.
Two of Prajapati’s close aides – Ashok Tiwari, the then Lekhpal of Amethi and Ashish Shukla – were netted by the UP cops from Noida near Jewar on March 7.
The former minister's security guard Chandrapal was also arrested on March 6 near Lucknow police lines.
In all, six of seven accused persons were arrested by the state police till Tuesday.
The Gayatri Prajapati case was a big issue in the recently concluded UP elections. While Akhilesh said it was politically motivated, the BJP cornered the SP government on the issue.