Rajat Sharma

How criminals in UP are back in the electoral fray?

rajat-sir BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Yogi Adityanath on Friday set the tone and focus of his party’s campaign, by speaking out against ‘bahubali’ politicians who wield the gun, and have a past record of many criminal cases. He said, there were several “rioters” (danga-premi) and “tamachawaadi” (gun toting criminals) in the list of SP candidates. “The people of UP are no more escapist, they want progress and a state free from riots and criminals”, Yogi said.

The UP chief minister claimed that rioters and gangsters were on the run for the last five years during his rule, but many of them have now been given tickets by Akhilesh Yadav. Yogi alleged that the masterminds of Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar riots and those behind the exodus of Hindus from Kairana have now become SP candidates.

I sent India TV reporters to check the affidavits filed by such candidates having criminal backgrounds, and the cases mentioned in those affidavits are eye-openers.

Take for instance, Kairana, from where exodus of Hindus took place five years ago due to threats from gangsters belonging to other community. SP has given ticket to Nahid Hasan, the MLA from Kairana. When he went to file his nomination, he was promptly arrested by police and sent to judicial custody.

There are 17 cases against Nahid Hasan, which include attempt to murder, rioting, cheating, criminal conspiracy, and creating ill-will between communities. Sections of Goonda Act and Gangster Act have also been added in these cases. A year ago, Nahid Hasan was declared absconder by a local court, but soon after getting SP ticket, he went to file his nomination papers. He was arrested and sent to 14 days’ judicial custody. Since there are slim chances of him getting bail, his sister Iqra Hasan has filed nomination as an independent for backup. Iqra claims that most of the cases filed against her brother were fake. The fact is, many of the cases out of the total number of 17 were filed against Nahid Hasan, even before Yogi came to power.

In Dhaulana seat of Hapur, Aslam Choudhary has been given the SP ticket. There are ten criminal cases including those of attempt to murder, pending against him. Other cases include threat to life, forcible occupation of land, rioting and making inflammable speeches. Cases under Gangsters Act have been lodged against Choudhary. When asked by India TV reporter, Aslam Choudhary said, most of the cases were false. Instead, he alleged that there were criminal cases against chief minister Yogi too. “How can he become a saint and I, a criminal?”, he asked. Aslam Chaudhary was BSP MLA, who joined SP recently. In his affidavit, he mentioned only 10 cases, but police records show, there are 21 cases pending against him.

In Meerut City, Rafiq Ansari is the SP candidate. He has a criminal case of attempt to murder filed in 2007, but he got a stay on from High Court on his arrest warrant issued by a lower court. Ansari is the sitting SP MLA.

There is another example. Haji Younus, the RLD candidate from Bulandshahr, has a criminal case of attempt to murder since Akhilesh Yadav’s rule, but Haji Younus says, the case is false. The fact is, there are seven cases of attempt to murder, attempt to rape, giving threat of life and other charges, against him. Haji Younus claims, most of these cases are related to family disputes. He says, if we have our own chief minister after polls, we will get all these cases closed, within an hour.

The list of candidates with criminal background is long. Madan Singh Kasana alias Madan Bhaiya, is the RLD candidate from Loni, Ghaziabad. He is feared in his locality for his ‘bahubali’ image. A few days ago, Yogi Adityanath mentioned his name during his poll campaign in Noida. On Friday, Madan Bhaiya warned his political rivals that they should remain within limits while criticizing him, “otherwise they must remember that my name is Madan Bhaiya”. When India TV reporter met him, Madan Bhaiya said, “it is not a shame if one becomes a Bahubali. Even Bajranbali (Lord Hanuman) was a ‘bahubali’”. He said, he had only two cases pending against him, and both were politically motivated.

It is an acknowledged fact that during the five years of Yogi’s rule, stringent action was taken against gangsters, criminals and anti-social elements. Properties of mafia gangsters were seized and in several cases demolished by using bulldozers. Forcible occupation of government land by mafia gangsters was removed in several cases.

More than Rs 1,500 crore worth properties were recovered. People of UP never saw in the past, videos of gangsters putting placards round their necks, begging police to arrest them and put in jail, before they die in encounters. Did anybody see in the past, criminals filing petitions in courts pleading for cancellation of their bail, and opting for judicial custody, because they considered themselves safe inside jail?

Even his rivals admit that Yogi struck terror of police, administration and law in the hearts of criminals during five years of his rule, but even to this day, criminalization of politics and entry of criminals in politics continue to be rampant.

Despite enactment of laws barring entry of criminals in politics, they find ways to circumvent the law. The law says, anybody convicted even for two years imprisonment stands disqualified from contesting polls, but there are instances where it takes even up to 20 years for getting a conviction. By that time, the criminal, taking undue advantage of legal delay, contests elections several times, and in some cases, also becomes a minister. Secondly, the common public who go to polling booths to cast their votes, do not know about the cases pending against candidates.

This time, Election Commission has made it mandatory for candidates to publish the list of cases pending against them in newspapers for the benefit of voters. Political parties, the EC has said, must put on their websites the list of cases pending against their official candidates.

Our reporters checked the official website of Samajwadi Party and found that the cases were uploaded, but nobody can clearly understand what are the cases pending against the candidates. Only sections of IPC and CrPC are mentioned, and the common man never understand the charges under which these sections have been mentioned. The Election Commission should go through this point and plug the loopholes.

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