Gangsters, old and new, continue flourishing in Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh  

Gangsters have been a part of the establishment in Uttar Pradesh, controlling contracts, business, bureaucracy and politics

Representative Image 
Representative Image

Rashme Sehgal

Vikas Dubey, a Brahmin ganglord, has been a small-time outlaw. But his ability to get 20 pradhans electedtranslated into one lakh votes, enough to win an MLA seat and significantly influence a parliamentary constituency.No wonder he was wooed by all political parties including the BJP.

The Association of Democratic Reforms had found that one-third of the candidates who fought elections for the UP assembly in 2017 had criminal records which included murder and extortion. The largest number of them is, not surprisingly, from the BJP, which explains the nexus between these gangsters, police and politicians. Indeed, Uttar Pradesh has a long history of being dominated, even ruled by gangsters.

Munna Bajrangi, whose real name was Prem Prakash Singh, was a Rajput by caste. He started his criminal career as a member of the criminal-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s gang. In the mid-nineties, criminals were flourishing in UP politics and several gangsters including Raja Bhaiyya, DP Yadav, Brijbhushan and Sharan Singh had emerged as politicians too. Not to be outdone, in 1996, Mukhtar Ansari was elected from Mau. These gangs made money by cornering government contracts with political help.

Ansari’s rival gang was led by Brijesh Singh, a mafia don who worked with BJP politician Krishnanand Rai. The two sides were constantly sniping at each other but in 2002 when Krishnanand Rai succeeded in defeating Mukhtar Ansari’s brother from Mohammadabad, matters came to a head.

Munna Bajrangi and his group attacked Rai and his six aides. This was in November 2005. Over 400 bullets were fired from six AK 47 rifles in this deadly encounter. Incidentally, it was Bajrangi who introduced the deadly AK 47s in gang warfare in UP.In all, 67 bullets were recovered from seven bodies including Rai in this bloody incident.

Bajrangi escaped to Mumbai. He was tracked down and brought to Tihar Jail in 2012 but that did not stop him from contesting the 2012 assembly elections from behind bars. And despite his track record, he managed to garner 12 percent of the votes. But on July 8, 2018, he was shifted from Jhansi jail to Baghpat jail and the following day he was shot dead by another inmate inside the jail premises.

Few Thakur dons can match the kind of media attention that Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya of Kunda, who has served five terms as an MLA, has enjoyed. This ‘Goonda of Kunda’ was said to have thrown rivals and informers into a pond in his estate where he had bred crocodiles.

In an affidavit submitted to the Election Commission in the 2012 assembly elections, Raja Bhaiya stated that he was facing eight criminal cases including `dacoity, kidnapping, criminal intimidation, attempted murder, rioting, cheating, rash driving and tampering with evidence’.

Judicial proceedings in all these cases are dragging on, including the one related to his alleged role in the killing of DSP Zia-ul-Haq and the serious injuries inflicted on a sub inspector who was accompanying him.

The DSP had gone to control an angry mob who were upset at the killing of the village headman when he was gunned down. The DSP’s widow Pravin Azad had said, `On the directions of Raja Bhaiya, his henchmen first assaulted my husband with sticks and rods and later shot him dead.’

But here again, as was the case with Vikas Dubey who was let off following the killing of Santosh Shukla, Raja Bhaiya was given a clean chit on this killing by none other than the CBI.

Being a thakur don, there were rumours that this six-time MLA would join the BJP. Following his meeting with CM Yogi Adityanath in 2019, he was reported to have been told to use his influence in the Pratapgarh Lok Sabha constituency to help the BJP candidate win in the 2019 parliamentary elections from there.

Few Brahmin dons have enjoyed the kind of popularity that came the way of Shri Prakash Shukla, who was good looking, loved flashy clothes and flashier cars and had a string of girlfriends in several towns.

Shukla shot into prominence when he shot down Bihar minister Brij Bihari despite him being protected by eight commandos. Shukla was known to go up to the victim and fire point blank just to ensure that the individual was dead.

Like most prominent gangsters, he too nurtured dreams of entering politics. This becomes inevitable because this allows them to enjoy both political power and control the bureaucracy and politicians.

Shukla had aspirations to contest assembly elections from the Brahmin dominated Chillupur constituency. In order to raise money for his election, he chalked out a plan to kidnap the son of Sahara chief Subrata Roy for a ransom of Rs 25 crore. But before he could execute his plan, Shukla was shot dead by a Special Task Force in Ghaziabad.

These dons, despite their cruelty and violent ways, are often seen as Robin Hood like characters. Villagers are known to collect chanda in order to erect statues of these `heroes’ in their villages and they have become part of the folk lore.

UP ADGP police (retd) VN Rai believes `there is a point up to which the system will tolerate you but if you cross the Laxman Rekha, the system will not accept you any longer.’

Rai believes by gunning down the eight policeman, Vikas Dubey has crossed the Rubicon. ` There have been legendary dacoits in the past but they all avoided a confrontation with the police,’ said Rai.

The gunning down of the eight policemen has torn to shreds Yogi Adityanath’s claims that he had helped restore law-and-order in UP. Opposition leaders ask why in the list of 63 offenders brought out by the UPstate government had not included the name of Dubey, who stands accused in 60 cases of serious crimes.

Brahmins of UP continue to rile about how despite their exalted social status, their educational achievements and their domination of the bureaucracy, they have a thakur ruling their state as chief minister. This could explain why there is a section of Brahmins who continue to lend their support to Vikas Dubey.

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